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on 30 June 2017
Excellent read. Funny, scary, interesting. Read it in 2 sittings
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on 13 June 2017
Gripping read couldn't put it down
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on 27 March 2017
I read this book in advance of a forthcoming trip to Colombia and really enjoyed the historical sections. At times it was laugh-out-loud funny and I had to read scenes to my husband as they were very accurate descriptions of life on the road. I had hoped for more information on the cities of South America, but as the author prefers the wilderness those sections were pretty scant. Like most people I was shocked and saddened by the ending as I had grown fond of egotistical drug-taking Mark. Thoroughly entertaining, I would have given it 5* if it had contained more info on cities and fewer footnotes, which I found interesting but irritating (they could so easily have been incorporated into the text).
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on 19 January 2007
poor story ponctuated by drugs and booze anecdotes. What's wrong with you, Mark Mann ?
If customers want a good travelling book , try Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux or Redmond O'Hanlon. Stories that make sense with a witty writing.
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on 21 December 2014
The 'book' received was a 'sampler' which I found out is a quarter of the actual book so not as described
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on 8 January 2002
Although I've only recently become interested in travel literature, in comparison to some other novels in the genre I've read I wouldn't call this a 'must read'.
Basically, I wasn't really sure about the books purpose - was it trying to give a true insight into South America, past and present, or just tell us something about the Lonely Planet generation? Both, I suspect, but the outcome isn't entirely convincing. I have to admit, bits were dead funny and I liked Mark Mann's kinda offbeat style of writing, but by the end I couldn't help getting annoyed with these politically correct, middle-class gringos. However, I would still recommend the book for a couple of hours of escapism.
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on 6 August 1999
Unlike other travelogues I have read, this one has a very punchy story. Not a book for the faint hearted, but I suppose South American backpacking never is. The characters (Mark No.2 and Melissa)are seriously "larger then life" although Mann himself is the mundane comparison with which most of us would associate. Mann is a talented story-teller, who has researched the South American history well, He approaches it from a somewhat cynical, anti-capitalist perspective, which would not be everyone's cup of tea. But regardless of your politics, the story reaches out and grabs you by the throat. A great big rollercoaster of geographical, and self exploration (mostly drug enhanced) that spirals towards an all too real,nightmare conclusion. I fought with my wife over whose turn it was to read the book, and she had nightmares afterwards. There must be safer ways to explore South America, but they wouldn't make quite so compulsive a read.
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on 23 August 2015
This book was easy to read, and I enjoyed reminiscing about my own travels in South America. There was much less darkness and drug-fueled excess than I was expecting from the blurb. There was a strange slightly jarring mix of styles, with the factual passages and footnotes seeming out of place. I most enjoyed reading about the author's sometimes strained relationships with his travel companions and these definitely rang true. The end of the book is the best part by far, thought-provoking and genuinely moving.
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on 2 January 2013
I picked this book up on a whim from a local discount book store. Having spent a small amount of time in South America I thought it would be fun to read, and as I want to travel the continent more extensively I thought I might find some inspiration. Mark Mann writes very informatively, and "chunks" the book into short, concise sections which makes this ideal for the casual reader (it's also good for the more hardened, "sit down and finish it in a day" kind of person like my sister as it gives her regular snack breaks). The descriptions are fantastic, the prose flows and the added educational aspects are well woven into the story. I enjoyed accompanying Mark and his friends through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Columbia. I laughed along with them when they experienced setbacks on the road, linguistic challenges in the cafes and overstuffed hostels. But I rate them as acquaintances, not friends, so I didn't really care when things went wrong for them. Even so, I would recommend this book as a travelling companion or as a bit of escapism when you're stuck at home, dreaming of adventures. Just don't go looking for luxury inside!
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on 17 June 2001
The book is heavily advertised as a laddish, drugs laden, travelogue. Thank God, "The Gringo Trail" is much more than that, the drugs part being outweighed by interesting and humourous insights into today's Latin American reality. The tragic final events give even more flesh to this beefed-up "The Beach". My main reservations about the book concern the lectures in 70s third-worldism that constantly emerge throughout the book: OK, the Conquistadores were bad guys, OK, US multinationals are plundering LA's natural resources, but if the author judged such earth-shattering pieces of information ought to be included in the book, he could have chosen more updated materials (than, say, 1987 World Bank reports), written by someone with a slightly sharper analysis... And, one last thing: even though, at the end, Mark Mann [moans] about journalists mis-spelling foreign names, two thirds of the foreign words cited in the book are mis-spelled, be they Spanish, French or Italian. Otherwise, a pretty readable book that made two boring days in Tbilisi, Georgia, pass very quickly.
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