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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 July 1999
Full Tilt is the most engaging of all Dervla Murphy's travel books. Whilst her travels, in the most unlikely and inconvenient places, are always captivating, her sheer delight with Afghanistan and Pakistan and their people lifts this above the others. One wants to set off on one's own bicycle at once and head straight for all the places she so effortlessly brings to life. Definately not a book to miss, read it once and it will stay in your heart for ever.
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on 29 March 2010
This is a very fine piece of writing and a very interesting travelogue. Her bravery and single mindedness is inspirational. Her encounters are fascinating and compelling and recounted without hype or over dramatisation. I strongly disagree with one reviewer here that says she was naive in her observations of local customs and politics. Quite the opposite, she showed an empathy and understanding quite rare among travelers in foreign lands.
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on 18 February 2004
Dervla travelled from Dunkirk to Delhi on a three-speed roadster. Across Afghanistan. In the 60s. Unable even to mend a puncture. With a large supply of cigarettes. And a gun. Bitten by a wolf in Yugoslavia. When the road was rough in Iran, she cycled in the river bed instead. An blow with an Afghan rifle butt broke her ribs...
In comparison to this, anyone other (even her own) cycle trip just pales into ordinariness. The material is sufficiently extraordinary that the plain diary style is an adequate vehicle. The observations and empathy for the peoples and places make this a great travel book, not just the greatest cycle travel book.
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on 5 September 2013
Political, religious, social students as well as cycle routers, enthusiasts and armchair travellers can get an insight from this book.
Written from the notes made enroute, mainly after entering Asia, this book gives a inside view to the people of the middle east and the difference between politics and religious beliefs in a simple yet expedient way.
Although the journey was made in 1963 much of what is contained in the travelogue is as relevant today as it was then and helps to understand what is happening in the middle east.
A first class read and a great book.
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I read this when it was first published and her bravado and guts filled me with admiration. The lands she travelled in seemed so exotic and far away - although they soon became part of the Hippy Trail of the late 60s and 70s.

On re-reading it my admiration for her courage is undiminished - but I was soon struck my just how much the world has changed. Some of the countries she travelled through (albeit with some difficulties) have since become impossible for any independent traveller. The cold war conflict between the USSR and USA were being played out in Afghanistan but who could have guessed the tragedy that lay ahead for the Afghans? I had forgotten the episode visiting the Buddhas at Bamian - a sight no-one will ever see again as these were destroyed by the Taliban a few years ago. She writes of both Afghanistan and Pakistan with great affection but is much less kind to Iran and India.....

She is well able to cope with the simplicity on offer. Her description of a Grade A hotel in Herat was wonderful: "It has an Eastern lavatory but with flush attached (when I pulled the string the whole apparatus collapsed and I was drenched in rusty water!) and there is also a holder for lavatory paper on the wall which makes one feel that if one stayed here long enough it might have paper too some day."

I do have problems with writers who make sweeping negative statements about a whole people. About the Kashmiris she said "The people are in general the most moronic I've met since Persia..." Also "The standard of intelligence of the average village school-teacher is incredibly low" - this was stated after 26 days in Pakistan!

And I wonder if she would still agree with her statement re literacy: "We have yet to prove that universal literacy as we know it advances the mass of the people in any worth-while direction"

As a traveller she obviously relates well to the people she meets along the way. However she is not clear about the number of invitations and introductions she arranged before she set out. How many travellers end up dining with the President of Pakistan?

Loved the list of kit at the end - today surely this would be fleeces and Gore-Tex!
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on 30 October 2012
I have read three books by Dervla Murphy and having travelled to some of the regions in this globe that she has covered, find her books fascinating, humorous and entertaining, also at times astonishing. I loved every part of Full Tilt, from Ireland to Delhi and all the places in between. All respect and admiration to this formidable lady (and her daughter).
I have just read Eight Feet in the Andes, a heart-wrending account of the abject, unbelievable poverty and beauty of rural Peru, its incredible landscapes and its indiginous Indians, trapped in an apparent "moribund culture", very moving indeed.

I look forward to reading all her books. Thank you Dervla, for the experiences you share, and your compassionate and intelligent insight and your love of life, humanity. travels in wildernesses and especially remote, (rather high) mountains. I have visited the himalayas (Pokhara, Badrinath, Kashmir, parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan) and have so loved reading your descriptions of the high ranges and the way of life of so many different cultures.

We westerners can often be ignorant and blinkered, taking so much for granted in our quite privileged society.
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on 2 December 2013
This is really one of the most interesting books I've ever read, and Dervla Murphy at her best (which is saying something of such a wonderful storyteller). The only thing I had reservations about was the apparent reflections that people living as subsistence farmers in the Himalayas were better off without education, but this was, also, obviously meant as a way of saying that we have a lot to learn from their way of life.
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on 28 September 2015
Fascinating book that really shows you how times have and have not changed in both the good ways and the bad. If you are planning on a cycling trip yourself then this book ins't very informative seen as it is set 50 years ago yet it is great for anyone who likes cycling or road trips.

I was however a little disappointed with the ending as it just seemed to finish abruptly - only a minor thing though.
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on 11 June 2015
If you like travel and you like cycling, you must read this book. It's a brilliant well-written account of Dervla's trek from Ireland to India in 1963.
My husband and I thought we were brave when we regularly took our bikes for cycle tours of Greece in the 1990s, but our trips with modern bikes, modern camping equipment and the ability to rent rooms along the way were luxurious in comparison to Dervla's trek. One feels humble at what she achieved on her own back in 1963 and her portrayal of the wonderful people she met is brilliant.
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on 24 July 2014
I first read this as a teenager many moons ago. Reading it now I got the same pleasure, but touched with the poignancy of the description of a world destroyed. Ms Murphy travelled before the Islamic Revolutions and civil wars changed these places forever. Time and again, I wondered how some of the people that she met had coped with the upheavals that were to come.

An excellent read
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