Travel literature

An intimate journey across and in search of America, as told by one of its most beloved writers, in a deluxe centennial edition

In September 1960, John Steinbeck embarked on a journey across America. He felt that he might have lost touch with the country, with its speech, the smell of its grass and trees, its color and quality of light, the pulse of its people. To reassure himself, he set out on a voyage of rediscovery of the American identity, accompanied by a distinguished French poodle named Charley; and riding in a three-quarter-ton pickup truck named Rocinante.
 
His course took him through almost forty states: northward from Long Island to Maine; through the Midwest to Chicago; onward by way of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana (with which he fell in love), and Idaho to Seattle, south to San Francisco and his birthplace, Salinas; eastward through the Mojave, New Mexico, Arizona, to the vast hospitality of Texas, to New Orleans and a shocking drama of desegregation; finally, on the last leg, through Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey to New York.
 
Travels with Charley in Search of America is an intimate look at one of America's most beloved writers in the later years of his life—a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. Written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South—which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand—Travels with Charley is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade. This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition also features French flaps and deckle-edged paper.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Thirty years after the epic journey chronicled in his classic work The Great Railway Bazaar, the world’s most acclaimed travel writer re-creates his 25,000-mile journey through eastern Europe, central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, China, Japan, and Siberia.

Half a lifetime ago, Paul Theroux virtually invented the modern travel narrative by recounting his grand tour by train through Asia. In the three decades since, the world he recorded in that book has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India booms while Burma smothers under dictatorship; Vietnam flourishes in the aftermath of the havoc America was unleashing on it the last time Theroux passed through. And no one is better able to capture the texture, sights, smells, and sounds of that changing landscape than Theroux.
Theroux’s odyssey takes him from eastern Europe, still hung-over from communism, through tense but thriving Turkey into the Caucasus, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbor Azerbaijan revels in oil-fueled capitalism. Theroux is firsthand witness to it all, traveling as the locals do—by stifling train, rattletrap bus, illicit taxi, and mud-caked foot—encountering adventures only he could have: from the literary (sparring with the incisive Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk) to the dissolute (surviving a week-long bender on the Trans-Siberian Railroad). And wherever he goes, his omnivorous curiosity and unerring eye for detail never fail to inspire, enlighten, inform, and entertain.

PAUL THEROUX was born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1941 and published his first novel, Waldo, in 1967. His fiction includes The Mosquito Coast, My Secret History, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, Blinding Light, and most recently, The Elephanta Suite. His highly acclaimed travel books include Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, Fresh Air Fiend, and Dark Star Safari. He has been the guest editor of The Best American Travel Writing and is a frequent contributor to various magazines, including The New Yorker. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.
"We sai1ed for America, and there made certain preparations. This took but little time. Two members of my family elected to go with me. Also a carbuncle. The dictionary says a carbuncle is a kind of jewel. Humor is out of place in a dictionary." — Following the Equator
So begins this classic piece of travel writing, brimming with Twain's celebrated brand of ironic, tongue-in-cheek humor. Written just before the turn of the century, the book recounts a lecture tour in which he circumnavigated the globe via steamship, including stops at the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, India, South Africa and elsewhere.
View the world through the eyes of the celebrated author as he describes a rich range of experiences — visiting a leper colony in Hawaii, shark fishing in Australia, tiger hunting, diamond mining in South Africa, and riding the rails in India, an activity Twain enjoyed immensely as suggested by this description of a steep descent in a hand-car:
"The road fell sharply down in front of us and went corkscrewing in and out around the crags and precipices, down, down, forever down, suggesting nothing so exactly or so uncomfortably as a crooked toboggan slide with no end to it. . . . I had previously had but one sensation like the shock of that departure, and that was the gaspy shock that took my breath away the first time that I was discharged from the summit of a toboggan slide. But in both instances the sensation was pleasurable — intensely so; it was a sudden and immense exaltation, a mixed ecstasy of deadly fright and unimaginable joy. I believe that this combination makes the perfection of human delight."
A wealth of similarly revealing observations enhances this account, along with perceptive descriptions and discussions of people, climate, flora and fauna, indigenous cultures, religion, customs, politics, food, and many other topics. Despite its jocular tone, this book has a serious thread running through it, recording Twain's observations of the mistreatments and miseries of mankind. Enhanced by over 190 illustrations, including 173 photographs, this paperback edition — the only one avai1able — will be welcomed by all admirers of Mark Twain or classic travel books.
'If ever there was a book calculated to make a man in love with its author, this appears to me to be the book.' William Godwin, the author's future husband, was not alone in admiring Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, Wollstonecraft's most popular book during her lifetime. Not easy to categorize, it is both an arresting travel book and a moving exploration of her personal and political selves. Wollstonecraft set out for Scandinavia just two weeks after her first suicide attempt, on a mission from the lover whose affections she doubted, to recover his silver on a ship that had gone missing. With her baby daughter and a nursemaid, she travelled across the dramatic landscape and wrote sublime descriptions of the natural world, and the events and people she encountered. What emerges most vividly is Wollstonecraft's courage and ability to look beyond her own suffering to the turmoil around her in revolutionary Europe, and a better future. This edition includes further material on the silver ship, Wollstonecraft's personal letters to Imlay during her trip, an extract from Godwin's memoir, and a selection of contemporary reviews. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
From the author of A Short History of Nearly Everything and The Body comes a travel diary documenting a visit to Kenya. All royalties and profits go to CARE International.
 
In the early fall of 2002, famed travel writer Bill Bryson journeyed to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world. He arrived with a set of mental images of Africa gleaned from television broadcasts of low-budget Jungle Jim movies in his Iowa childhood and a single viewing of the film version of Out of Africa. (Also with some worries about tropical diseases, insects, and large predators.) But the vibrant reality of Kenya and its people took over the second he deplaned in Nairobi, and this diary records Bill Bryson’s impressions of his trip with his inimitable trademark style of wry observation and curious insight.
 
From the wrenching poverty of the Kibera slum in Nairobi to the meticulously manicured grounds of the Karen Blixen house and the human fossil riches of the National Museum, Bryson registers the striking contrasts of a postcolonial society in transition. He visits the astoundingly vast Great Rift Valley; undergoes the rigors of a teeth-rattling train journey to Mombasa and a hair-whitening flight through a vicious storm; and visits the refugee camps and the agricultural and economic projects where dedicated CARE professionals wage noble and dogged war against poverty, dislocation, and corruption.
 
Though brief in compass and duration, Bill Bryson’s African Diary is rich in irreverent, poignant, and morally instructive observation. Like all of this author’s work, it can make the reader laugh, think, and especially, feel all at the same time.
From one of the world's most beloved writers and New York Times bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body, a vivid, nostalgic, and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the 1950s.

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century—1951—in the middle of the United States—Des Moines, Iowa—in the middle of the largest generation in American history—the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood with an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evildoers (and morons)—in his head—as "The Thunderbolt Kid."

Using this persona as a springboard, Bill Bryson re-creates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality—a life at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. It was, he reminds us, a happy time, when automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless or even good for you. He brings us into the life of his loving but eccentric family, including affectionate portraits of his father, a gifted sportswriter for the local paper and dedicated practitioner of isometric exercises, and of his mother, whose job as the home furnishing editor for the same paper left her little time for practicing the domestic arts at home. The many readers of Bill Bryson’s earlier classic, A Walk in the Woods, will greet the reappearance in these pages of the immortal Stephen Katz, seen hijacking literally boxcar loads of beer. He is joined in the Bryson gallery of immortal characters by the demonically clever Willoughby brothers, who apply their scientific skills and can-do attitude to gleefully destructive ends.

Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, and full of his inimitable, pitch-perfect observations, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is as wondrous a book as Bill Bryson has ever written. It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.
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