Wednesday, April 25, 2018

805 (2018 #28). Travel as a Political Act


by Rick Steves

Travel guru Rick Steves - who I've actually met (his offspring went to school with my offspring) - gave a keynote speech recently at the 2018 Texas Library Association conference in Dallas.  I wasn't able to attend the conference, but I saw some clips of his speech and read numerous tweets about it, so I decided to check out a book he referred to in that speech.

It should be noted that I am reviewing the first (2009) edition of Travel as a Political Act.  A revised edition came out in February 2018, and it's clear from its introduction (available on the Kindle preview on Amazon) that the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA inspired the update.  The chapter headings are the same in both books, with the exception that 2018 adds a chapter called "The Holy Land:  Israelis and Palestinians Today."

The first chapter discusses "How to Travel as a Political Act."  Tips include choose to travel on purpose, connect with people, take history seriously - don't be dumbed down, overcome fear, get beyond your comfort zone - choose to be challenged, and see the rich/poor gap for yourself.  All good advice to truly experience another country and culture.

The other chapters focus on the results of civil war in the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro), successes and struggles of the formation of the European Union, the aftermath in war-torn El Salvador, economic aspects of Denmark, sampling Islam in moderate Turkey and Moracco, drug policy in the Netherlands and Switzerland, and Iran.  The book winds up with a chapter on what one might do with new knowledge gained from travel after coming home.

Steves inserts his political views throughout the book, but is upfront about doing so.  I mostly agree with him, although not on everything, and I feel this is a worthwhile book to read regardless.  But then, I'm the kind of traveler that likes learn something about the people, history, and culture of places I visit.  I wouldn't take a cruise, for example, and just stay on the ship, or only go shopping in the port area.  I will note though that there is also value to traveling to various parts of our own country - there's a variety of people, history, culture, and viewpoints within the USA.

© Amanda Pape - 2018

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my university library.]

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