Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't Go There! by Peter Greenberg

Greenberg, as the cover of Don't Go There! helpfully notes, is the Travel Editor [1] for NBC's Today Show, so many of you may already have heard of him. This is his latest breezy book about traveling the world, with an emphasis on the places he expects people will want to avoid.

Don't Go There! has seventeen chapters, each of them focusing on one particular kind of unpleasantness -- they range from air pollution to political corruption, from disease and natural disasters to unsafe and unpleasant trains, roads, or airports -- and counting up the worst offenders both in the USA and around the world. Interspersed are a half-dozen shorter sections which are not numbered in sequence with the chapters, but provide very similar lists and commentary in a few other areas, such as the most expensive cities, the most depressed destinations, and the most dangerous theme parks.

Most of us are unlikely to have the hugely widely scope for world travel that would make Don't Go There! particularly useful; those of us who do regularly travel to lots of different destinations are likely to do so for work purposes, and so have less control over those destinations than leisure travelers would. But anyone who likes to travel at all knows that the armchair kind of travel is almost as much fun as the real kind -- and cheaper, too. Don't Go There! is like hearing stories of someone else's travel travails while sitting comfortably wherever you happen to be. It has a lot of charts and statistics, which are fun to look at but probably won't make anyone change their bookings.

In short, this is a fine book if you come across it something like the way I did: in a library, to read on a whim. It doesn't provide much depth, and doesn't really cross-reference the different measures of horribleness to make a grand index of places to avoid, so it reads a bit like a collection of separate essays. Still, if only a few isolated facts stick in the reader's head, that will probably be useful.

[1] This implies that some people at NBC don't know the difference between what a text editor -- of magazines or books -- and a video editor do, since Greenberg is apparently the soliciting-pieces kind of editor rather than the cutting-it-to-fit-in-a-time-slot editor. Either that, or they just don't care. My money, as always with TV folks, is on "don't care."
Listening to: Future of the Left - The Hope That House Built
via FoxyTunes

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