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Tony Wheeler's Dark Lands (Lonely Planet Travel Literature) Paperback – 16 Aug 2013

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet; 1 edition (16 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 174321846X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1743218464
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 694,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other --New York Times

Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world --Fairfax Media (Australia)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had high expectations of this book after reading a very good review in Wanderlust. However I found it very superficial as in the two countries which I already knew, Colombia and Papua New Guinea, he only spent a short time on the coast, I suspect so that he could go diving. He never reached any of the areas to which I travelled. I spent probably as long as Tony Wheeler in Colombia this year, just over 3 weeks and loved it. He did do the trek to the Ciudad Perdida but to be honest I think I saw more of Colombia than he did making 7 bus journeys alone and exploring it, finding the people anxious to show that they are welcoming after so many troubled lands. In Papua New Guinea, I again felt that my experience was more of a traveller who enquired and less of a tourist. We again were in the interior in the Tari valley. I lent the book to a friend who lived in Zimbabwe and still has many friends there and he too found it rather superficial although he enjoyed reading it. He has firsthand experience of the Congo too and I asked if this section of the book "caught" the Congo he knows. Sadly it didn't. There are 6 Dark Lands described and between us we felt 4 of them had not been treated in any depth. So an enjoyable read but I suspect without his name, this book might not even have been published.
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Format: Paperback
As far as travel goes, Tony Wheeler is an icon. He was a backpacker before the word was even invented. He built a business empire based on his vast knowledge of routes less travelled and the information any inexperienced traveller craves before setting out. He's a hero.
Too bad his writing comes across as more than a bit dull. His aim in this book is interesting enough. He wants to visit and write about troubled countries, places on the map that generally reach the news headlines in the most negative ways and try to paint more varied portraits of them. To me this automatically means interesting reading. Not only do I get the chance to read first hand stuff about places I can't or dare not visit myself (or get updates on a couple of places where I actually did go), but it's also delivered by an authority on travel and travel writing.
So how come Tony doesn't deliver the goods?
My main objection is that I feel that Wheeler is cheating. I was hoping he would do the same thing he did when first setting out to write his first Lonely Planet guide, just book a ticket and go. But most of his "adventures" are pre-planned. Travelling through a country with a number of hosts, old acquaintances, guides, private drivers and even military guides feels more like superficial news reporting than true armchair travel to me. Most of his journeys are booked in beforehand, same goes with his accomodation, and in Zimbabwe he's even flown in his old chum's private plane to an exclusive safari lodge. Believe me, that's not Zimbabwe as I remember it.
In quite a few of his countries, like Colombia, he rattles off all the main tourist sights, a church here, a museum there, before hasting on to the next town on his agenda.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Could have been a good book, but missed the mark! 7 Jan. 2015
By Duendes - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Chapter on Colombia reads like a poorly written grade school "what I did for my summer vacation" essay, improves slightly with the chapter on the Congo, but my interest flagged with Israel and Palestine. Finished the book because I paid for it and I'm an optimist! Chapters are disorganized, he skips from subject to subject losing his train of thought, and never seems to settle on an over-arching theme. He appears obsessed with Bush; his views on US foreign policy are simplistic, passé, and cliched, I have heard it all a hundred times, it's not new or insightful, it has been said in a million different ways-the western powers are responsible for all the ills and evils in the whole world, bla, bla, bla...borrow the book or get at the library, the book didn't tell me anything I don't already know!
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Co-Founder of Lonely Planet and voracious traveler, author Tony Wheeler explores lands ... 31 Oct. 2013
By Book lvr - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
....that are not on most individuals travels list. This alone caught my attention. Columbia, Haiti, and Israel are just a handful of the countries he takes the armchair traveler to explore. And, sometimes, the travel is fraught with danger and physical challenges but each chapter (divided up by country) begins with a brief history on the people and then segues into his travel experiences.

A most excellent read !
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, I want to travel with you. 23 Jan. 2016
By P. Reilly - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating journeys by a fascinating man, one with seemingly no prejudice or constricting preconceptions and an admirable facility and patience for navigating red tape and border crossings. Oh, and a remarkably thick skin when being stoned. With real stones.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travellers Guide to Dark Places 9 Nov. 2013
By Tony Maxwell - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Actually, not all the places Tony Wheeler visits would I consider dark!
Nauru for example; after two days on the island waiting for an onward flight to Kiribati, I would rather describe the island as a tragic example of chronic financial mismanagement.

However, I do agree with his assessment of the island of Bougainville. (Part of Papua New Guinea, though,if you look at a map, part of the Solomon Islands.) Definitely one of the Dark Lands, given the troubles he and I both encountered trying to get to Yamamoto's downed bomber.

As a regular visitor and, briefly a resident, Zimbabwe would, in my opinion be a shoo in for a Dark Land. But, much to my surprise, Mr. Wheeler's chapter on Zimbabwe opened my eyes to small improvements that might, just might, prove to be the proverbial 'light at the end of the tunnel.'

Let's hope so. That tragically mismanaged country richly deserves its day in the sunshine!

Lonely Planet Tony Wheeler's Dark Lands 1st Ed.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Travel Guide!! 15 Sept. 2015
By Nicki - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lonely Planet travel guides are great! .... including this one! Perfect gift for my daughter.
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