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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 13 July 2015
so good I passed it onto my Book Club
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on 15 April 2017
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on 13 March 2011
So begins Dervla Murphy's first published book. Astonishingly, 21 years after making this decision, she did cycle from Ireland to India via Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and this book is the record of that journey.
The chapters about Afghanistan are the highlight -- she loves the country so much that she describes herself as "Afghanatical". This is in 1963, before the hippie trail, before the Mujaheddin, before the Taliban (at one stage she visits the Bamain Buddhas), and so can be seen as almost a historical document; but the sheer energy and excitement is timeless.
Some minor complaints: the journey through Europe and Iran felt hurried, and the end seems abrupt. If you want to find out what happened next, see Tibetan Foothold by the same author.
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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 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 10 October 2011
A friend recommended Dervla Murphy to me, so I thought I'd start with her very first book. She has a good, easy to read, flowing style with a wry sense of humour. I thought her journey, alone on a bicycle, from Ireland to India was insane and by the end of the book I was confirmed that Derval Murphy is that priceless human being, a true eccentric with a free spirit. She's also very strong, mentally, physically and spiritually which I find admirable. Afghanistan is described with much affection and it is sad to realise how much it has changed since 1963 with a Russian invasion and the Taliban ruining what sounds like a beautiful, medieval country. I'll probably read some more Derval Murphy in due course.
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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 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 22 April 2010
i read this book expecting it to be rather dry, but found it to be an entertaining, very personal account. just as the blurb says, dervla is a true traveller and it seems does so always with good spirits and endless curiosity. not just for cycling fans.
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VINE VOICEon 31 July 2008
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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