Prize-winning author Michael J. Totten returns with a masterpiece of travel writing and history in this journey through 13 nations - all but two formerly communist - just beyond the edge of the West where few casual travelers venture.
His work as an independent foreign correspondent takes him deep into the field beyond the sensational headlines, from his hilariously miserable road trip with his best friend to Iraq to the Wild West of Albania, the most bizarre country in Europe; from the killing fields in Bosnia and Kosovo to a Romania haunted by the ghosts of its communist past; from the front lines in the Caucasus during Russia's invasion of Georgia to the otherworldly post-Soviet disasterscape in Ukraine. Where the West Ends is high-octane adventure writing at its finest and is Michael J. Totten's most entertaining work written to date.
©2012 Michael J. Totten (P)2013 Michael Totten
I was hoping for some informative, descriptive, possibly even insightful stories about the countries Mr Totten travelled through. Unfortunately, the book seems to be more of a "we did this, then this, then went here" without ever really giving you a feel for the places visited - he certainly doesn't paint a vivid picture of anywhere he visits. Perhaps it feels like it was written by a journalist rather than a travel writer - the narrative doesn't really flow, even within a chapter. It's more like collected snippets.
While the story wasn't great, the narration is awful. Mr Grimsley sounds like he has a terrible cold and stresses odd syllables. His intonation is all over the place. It's a real effort to listen to him, which is the kiss of death for an audio book! If you like the sound of this, I'd probably track down a written copy.
"Like being there"
Totten's retelling of his journeys through the Mideast, the Balkans, and former Soviet republics is very entertaining and informative, always against the backdrop of recent history and the people who live there.
"Loved this book"
Riveting Travel Essay
Was looking for more information about the Balkans and this was not only informative, but very entertaining and would call it a page turner except I listened to it. Would definitely listen or read to other books by him just because I liked the author and his style of delivery. If you have any interest in this area of the world, this would be a good read/listen.
Solid book. Wish he had more about this area and I could find more like this.
"Not a right wing fanatic"
I just have to comment on one of the earlier reviews which state that Totten is a right wing fanatic, it almost put me off from reading this book. This is far from true, sure he is pro-Israeli and has an American perspective but he could very well be a Democrat. There is nothing fanatical or even extreme about his views.
A very interesting book about parts of the world you don't really hear much about. Partly tralelbook, but mostly about the places itself. Highly recommended
"Where ever you go there you are"
A very good book if you're someone curious about a region, as he aptly points out, that is somewhat lost between East and West. Totten is clearly up to the challenge of trying to write about a road trip where nothing happens. In fact several road trips. This is magnified by the fact that someone decided that because nothing happened that the book was too short and that he should try to make it as long as possible.
All that aside, his descriptions are enticing and his insights penetrating; his thoughts on the Ukraine are eerily prescient. And because nothing happens we are left with the country itself, a remarkable book
"May you live in interesting times..."
The author gives new meaning to the ancient eastern cursze: "may you lice in interesting times," by plunging headlong unto the most politically interesting p?aces on earth 😱=-O
"A good travel narrative"
I also wanted to write a review contradicting the assertion that the author is a right-wing nut or even necessarily a Republican.
This is a good listen. It helped remind me of how good we have it in this country. It was also interesting to learn that there are parts of the world where the United States is actually respected and liked. Perhaps this is why another reviewer thinks this guy is a right-winger.
I love travel books and will continue to read them, but this was awful.
Almost the entire section on the Ukraine describes how they couldn't read menus at restaurants. I couldn't read menus in the Ukraine either, but I'm not an award winning journalist and travel writer. Even if that is what happened, why write about it? Over all, there was too much "the east is weird and strange and has concrete buildings" and not nearly enough real insight into the people of the areas they visited. Disappointing.
He's a right wing fanatic. Had I known that, I wouldn't have bought this book.
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