This book is an amazing eyeopener as the US prepares to escalate our military commitment to Afghanistan. Mr Stewart's experiences clearly illustrates the logistical nightmare that is Afghanistan. The lives of the average Afghan is almost like going back in time. This country is full of poor, illiterate, isolated people who are none the less hospitable to a total stranger, sharing their very meager resources with him.
If I have any quarrel with Stewart it is that someone from such wealth and privilege (Dragon and Oxford) begging the bread out of the mouths of people so desperate and on the edge.
I am trying to imagine the success of travelling across this country the same way. "I have a letter of recommendation from your State Senator, may I have a nights lodgings and dinner?" Even though most of us have guest bedrooms and plenty of food, how many of us would open our doors?
I like when authors of non-fiction read their own works. While he doesn't do different voices or emote- he is British after all- it is more important to me to have the accuracy and first person account than showmanship. Their is one very emotional aspect to the book, that added to the story, but I wont go into it in the review. Just say it increased my interest in finishing the book to the very end.
What I liked about this book is the sense of adventure and whimsy. Pollack proves that you can convert any experience into a life changing and worthwile event with dedication and perseverance. I liked how he mixed in life and career into the quest to make his boat. Only negative- the reader could not have sounded more like a blowhard. Look up pompous in the dictionary and his voice comes out. Combined with the presidential speachwriter prose it was over the top snooty!
Anderson Cooper does a fantastic job narrating his story- intermixing his personal life that is the motivation behind the relentless drive he has to travel, explore and understand. It is ironic that a man who so studiously avoids dealing with his own personal pain and tragedy can so eloquently share the stories of suffering of others in such a compassionate and intimate manner.
I found one aspect of his personality to be particularly refreshing- his views on wealth and privilege. Remember when the wealthy used to be humble, self-deprecating and believe they had a duty to serve some higher purpose for all they had been given? (Or at least had the decency to pretend to be?) Well, that is Anderson to a T! He is not one of the annoying trust fund babies; born with 10 million bucks that thinks that makes them a financial genius. He is the anti-Paris!
The only tiny negative- I have heard so many excerpts of his story in Vanity Fair, on Oprah, on his show- that parts do seem repetitive.
I greatly enjoyed listening to this book and highly recommend it to everyone.
Another reviewer complained about the babyvoice of the reader, but in the story the main character talks about how she has a baby voice and she could do cartoon voiceover work. The audio problem that was slightly nausiating for me is the slurpy/ saliva sounds at the end of the chapters. I feel bad for the reader- I'm sure that is a sound problem and that should have been edited out. Distasteful to listen to. Yes, Nanny Diary crowd, but if you can't make fun of Manhattan's Uber Class- who can you. Next it will be unacceptable to mock West Virginians for marrying their cousins!
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