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This review is for the AUDIO BOOK version of The Dark Tourist - unfortunately Amazon have lumped the audio reviews in with the book reviews and there is no place to review them separately.

This is one of the funniest audio books I have listened to in ages. It is also one of the most addictive I've purchased to date, I listened to all 7 hours in just two afternoons - something I have never done with an audio book before.

Dom Joly in one of his many occupations works as a travel writer and as a consequence he gets to travel to many interesting and fascinating places around the world. However, not content with the standard tourist attractions, Mr Joly decides that it might be interesting to visit some rather obscure destinations - would you have ever considered skiing in Iran?

He dedicates one chapter to each destination and narrates his journey, or at least the memorable parts - of which there are many - with his own special brand of very dry humour. He manages to bring places that most of us will never get the chance to go to (nor probably wish to) in vivid detail.

He also manages to pull off an astounding range of authentic sounding accents when he plays the part of one of the locals. I defy anyone not to laugh at his account of his interview with an American security agent after landing at the airport. I was laughing constantly as he played the part of the disbelieving guard during the 'interview'

His vivid description of his escape whilst being chased around the JFK museum was enough to make my eyes water. He is probably on the list of 'America's most wanted' after his heinous felony of taking an unauthorised photograph out of a window.

If you enjoy audio books and you would like to find out a little more about the darker side of tourism this is definitely one to think about buying. Each chapter lasts approximately 1 hour and once you start a new chapter you will want to listen right to the end.

Highly recommended.
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on 24 September 2010
Bought this book after having attended one of Mr Joly's talks at Nottingham - then saw him again at Birmingham and he remembered - I think he thought I might be stalking him, sorry Dom, the Walsall scarf did not help. Read it in just over a day and a morning. Enjoyed the chapters on Iran and North Korea, but felt he could have gone to better places such as Yemen, Angola, Myanmar and the like for the other sections. Easy on the eye to read and having read many books on Korea and travelled to Iran and some of the places he had seen they did not expose anything else I did not already know. However, I may find myself getting another of his books one of these days as he did inject some humour and have some funny stories to tell.
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on 4 January 2011
I couldn't put this book down. Very funny, and occasionally surprisingly moving, it takes you on a whirlwind tour of some of the world's darkest political regimes, war zones, disasters and assassination sites. This isn't a serious travel guide, or in-depth current affairs analysis, but is hugely entertaining and gives a real sense of each of the places he visits. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 5 December 2010
Received this book on a Monday and must have finished it by the weekend which is very quick for me especially when I try to read slower to make them last longer. The places visited in this book are described in an excellent and funny way but my only little problem is that the book is too short and it would have been nice to include a few more places bringing the page count to a more worthwhile 350 pages. Places included are: Iran, USA, Cambodia, Ukraine, North Korea and Lebanon.
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on 7 October 2013
I think the book's title is totally misleading. I mean how could you possibly classify a trip to Dallas or even to Iran for 3 or 4 days as dark! The author's wishful thinking maybe. If you want to read about real dark tourism, where the author goes through hell but lives to tell the tale with such verve that you can smell the dumps he's been to and sweat with him, try Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux or The Soccer War by Ryszard Kapuscinski for starters. This book is a million miles from either of those.

OK, with the title out of the way, I still enjoyed this book, or some of it at least. The piece on North Korea is insightful with a few good laughs (gets the balance right) and the Ukrainian trip is really well told too with a brilliantly told incident in a hotel lift in Kyiv. The opening Iranian yarn is terrible - packed with bloody awful stereo-typing and telling you nothing at all of any note about the place. The Dallas jaunt has a few notable moments, especially with security and I must admit, I'd like to go there for the same reasons as he did - the JFK assassination site. The piece on Cambodia lacks punch and sincerity, considering the scale of the massacres there. It all seems too easy and relaxed. Finally, he treats us to a little peep into Lebanon, his birth place and childhood home. Again though, fairly bland and un-educational, though he clearly enjoyed seeing the once-familiar after all these years.

To summarise, the title led me to expect something very different but the book is still worth a quick, light read once you realize it's just a friendly, risk-free jaunt to a few spots where you probably won't find too much English Beer or fish and chips (but that's about the extent of its darkness!)
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on 3 September 2010
Highly recommended. Dom travels beyond the radius of Ryan Air's reach and gives us a literary photo album of his exploits travelling through the atmospheric North Korea (to the extent possible for a foreigner), Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran and USA. Though laugh out loud funny in parts, I would say the books main attraction was its interesting ability, through scary and funny travel anecdotes, to give the reader the feeling of what it is like to be there, without the actual travel. I like anything that overcomes the media stereotype for a particular travel location (though his trip to North Korea actually reinforced my media derived image).

Iran's always been on my "to do" list, now its near the top.
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on 6 September 2010
I picked this up, not knowing what to expect. I was a big Trigger Happy Tv fan but didn't know if this would be to my taste. I LOVED IT. The book is well written- very funny and informative without being preachy. Dom travels the world going to some curious destinations and getting into all sorts of scrapes. He skis in Iran and gets drunk on "Pizza" (Iranian moonshine). He goes on a road trip across the USA visiting the scenes of various assassinations. He takes a weekend break in Chernobyl and gets stuck in a lift. He goes to Cambodia and tries to buy Pol Pot;s shoes before ending up in a war crimes trial. In North Korea he thinks he;s been targeted by the secret service as his testicle swells up to a huge size. Finally in Lebanon he tries to get to the truth about being at school with Bin Laden and plays paintball with Hezbollah

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on 4 September 2012
The idea of "dark tourism" (tourism asociated with places of war, catastrophe and violent death) is an interesting one. It might even be a useful one to the extent that it makes people aware of the tragedies of the world. This book does justice to this idea only in part. Some of the stories are interesting and perceptive, which keeps the tone of the book more on the light side, and that is fine by me. Others are quite superficial, and don't really say much. Personal anecdotes are interesting if they help the reader infer more general conclusions about the place and the people involved. This is the case in this book, but only some of the time.

I also loathe his using the word "loathe" over and over and over again! :)

Some of his facts are wrong: he exaggerates the number of casualties of the Chernobyl accident, he gets the date of Ceaucescu's death wrong.

At times the writer, like many English travelers when they write about other countries, is a bit smug and quite condescending. I think there is nothing to be done about it, it's in their genes!

Finally, I don't think that, because you see McDonald or Starbucks, a previously "unspoilt" destination is now "ruined". Globalization increases choice. As an Italian I am happy to see pasta and pizza restaurants around the world. While I don't usually patronize them because I prefer to taste local fare, I don't think for a moment that they spoil anything. Does anyone think sushi should only be served in Japan?
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I'm a fan of Dom Joly, his shenanigans in Trigger Happy TV kept me laughing for years - so when I saw this in the library, I had to have a closer look. This is where the problem came, I couldn't put it down, even going to the counter to check it out was difficult. I nearly read the first chapter before I thought I should take this home.

Dom describes some of his stranger visits to countries people usually wouldn't go to, and the way he does it can be long winded, but he's funny at the same time. He has moments of clarity though, and sometimes Dom can come over as sensible, only until he starts asking quirky questions to tour guides in North Korea and Chernobyl.

This book isn't a long piece of literature, which suited me, I wanted to read this at bed time and when travelling around (I was doing some sort of dark tourism myself, going to Northampton to check out a uni, that's not normal tourism!) and also I was in the middle of coursework, so having this to dip in and out of was great. Dom does reveal some interesting facts about himself and the countries he visits.

I'd recommend this as it's good fun and won't take a lot of your time, though I would have expected this to be funnier as Dom is crazy on his TV shows.
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on 16 September 2010
There's not many books i'd give 5 stars to.. but this piece of reading has it all! I a a big Dom Joly fan, I think his comedy is great and Trigger Happy TV still gets me in fits of giggles after watching it for the 100th time. I'm not a travel book fan, but seeing a promotion in the newpaper for this I thought I'd give it a go.

I had no great knowledge of any of the countries in question (apart from America) and so this book really was enlightening, especially for me. He explains the history of the places he visits beforehand, so even if you don't really know anything, you will come out of reading this book with some knowledge. The book is of course hilarious, but he mixes it with the right mixture of humour, honesty and history.

I'd recommend this to everyone. 5*s!
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