This review is from: Tony Wheeler's Bad Lands (Lonely Planet Travel Literature) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a big fan on the Lonely Planet Guide Books and this seemed a bit different from the norm. The book is entitled Badlands: A Tourist on the axis of evil, and is written by Lonely Planet's founder Tony Wheeler. It features chapters on Tony's experiences travelling in some of the less hospitable (allegedly) countries on Earth: Afghanistan, Albania, Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Each country has a chapter and lasts for around the 20-30 pages mark. As a general rule of thumb Wheeler discusses the country's history and its entitlement to be included alongside his experience in a semi-recent visit. Of course it is not as straightforward as saying they had a nutter for leader for the last few decades. Many have had a variety of incompetents in charge and each new one may have made changes, but seemed to be lacking in a view of the bigger picture, often reacting to something created/caused by his predecessor, rather than developing the economy or ensuring adequate healthcare for its poorer citizens for the longer term. Wheeler doesn't bog us down with dry facts and figures but intersperses his personal observations and experience into a succinct and accessible narrative. He looks at human rights issues as well as foreign and economic policy without sounding like your old geography teacher. He also looks at the positives in these countries (often the people) and doesn't dwell on the negatives. A lot of his findings surprised me (and him) and I found this an informative and enjoyable read.