Around the world in 50 years My adventure to every country on earth

Albert Podell

Book - 2015

"In 2003, Albert Podell realized that he'd been to 110 countries in the world. What if, he wondered, he could go to them all? He would set foot in not just the well-known tourist destinations in Europe or the vacation spots in Latin America, but the little-known, far-off lands that most people don't know exist. In Around the World in 50 Years, Podell recounts the misunderstandings, detours, accidents, breakdowns, robberies, and even wars that he needed to overcome to visit every corner of Earth. He describes his encounters with voodoo rituals, fruit-bat pie, the Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon, Cuban counterintelligence agents, the New Guinea wigmen, camel caravans, the Lord's Resistance Army, and much, much more. With a wry,... exuberant style, Podell's observations on the unusual and exotic places that lay beyond the usual tourist trails make this book a standout on the travel writing shelf"--

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New York : Thomas Dunne Books 2015.
Main Author
Albert Podell (-)
First edition
Physical Description
viii, 354 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
  • Foreword
  • 1. Between a Croc and a Hard Place
  • 2. A Late Start
  • 3. The Land of a Thousand Horrors
  • 4. Weighed Down in Egypt's Land
  • 5. Into the Teeth of the Tiger
  • 6. Changing Goals
  • 7. Making a Splash
  • 8. "Just Call Me God"
  • 9. So, When Is a Country Not a Country?
  • 10. Doing God's Work
  • 11. Travels in SPAM Land
  • 12. Hanging Chad
  • 13. "Do Not Kidnap Anyone Today!"
  • 14. Your Man in Havana
  • 15. You Are What You Eat
  • 16. Snow Beneath the Southern Cross
  • 17. A Poke in a Pig
  • 18. No Countries for Old Men
  • 19. Into the Indian Ocean
  • 20. On the Whims of the Dragoons
  • 21. Murphy Moves to Tomorrow Land
  • 22. To the Land of the Great Leader
  • 23. In the Steppes of Genghis Khan
  • 24. On the Wings of the Dragon
  • 25. A Tropical Depression
  • 26. Second Thoughts
  • 27. My Meddle in the Muddle East
  • 28. Guerrillas and Gorillas
  • 29. Plan X and the Gray-Blue Eyes
  • 30. ...And One More for the Road
  • Countries Visited: In Chronological Order
  • I Gratefully Thank
Review by Booklist Review

In 1965, Podell was coleader of the record-setting longest automobile journey around the world. Decades later, he set the singular accomplishment of having traveled to every nation on the planet, 196 in all, some now no longer listed on maps. It took 72 separate journeys of more than a million miles, all told. Between jobs as a travel magazine editor, Podell doggedly stuck with his ambition, setting off for some of the world's politically touchiest spots, toughest terrains, and most breathtaking landscapes. His writing is breathtaking, as well, as he recalls the determination and often dumb luck that helped him survive riots, revolutions, earthquakes, and snow- and sandstorms. He describes carefully examining animal dung to determine what likely threats were in his vicinity in Botswana and inadvertently camping in the middle of a minefield in Algeria. He was nearly lynched in East Pakistan, nearly drowned in Costa Rica, jailed in Baghdad, and detained by police in Kinshasha. This is substantially more than a travel book. It is one man's nearly lifelong, worldwide adventure.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Podell first set his mind on traveling the world in 1964, when he quit his job at Argosy magazine and gave up his life as a bachelor in NYC, in an effort to break the record for the longest land journey around the world. Invigorated by all the sights, experiences, and drama, Podell set his sights higher: to visit every country in the world before he dies. In this lively travelogue, Podell proves himself a worthy raconteur as he recounts his adventures nearly drowning in Costa Rica, diving with penguins in the Galápagos, eating ice cream in the Sahara Desert, panning for gold in Senegal, and eating all manner of local dishes-including monkey brains in Hong Kong. He interacts with his fair share of corrupt officials and soldiers, falls into a manhole full of raw sewage in Africa, and visits the Pacific island of Tuvalu, a major arsenal during WWII that is all but abandoned and "will be the first country to disappear under the waves of the rising ocean." Rounded out with the author's frank advice for fellow travellers (he develops a toilet-rating system by country and includes a list of reasons not to visit Haiti) as well as his solemn observations that climate change is very real and that "if the work ethic I observed in the Western world continues to weaken... we are history," this book is an informative and sobering look at the world's many cultures and the importance of travel. 31 b&w photos. Agent: Tony Outhwaite, JCA Literary Agency. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Even the most jaded armchair traveler will enjoy these breezy anecdotal vignettes from Podell's 50 years of journeying. His goal: to visit every country on Earth. He accomplished this with good cheer and buckets full of stamina during hundreds of trips by car, jeep, minivan, camel, elephant-you name it. This is absolutely not a travel guide but rather a shout-out to those who crave adventure from someone who persists with good luck and no fear of the unknown. From his work as an editor and writer at Playboy and national outdoor magazines, Podell knows how to keep the reader's attention. Photographs are sprinkled throughout the book, perhaps to assure skeptical readers that some events, improbable at best, actually took place. There is no attempt here to be high-minded or to give much social commentary, only to communicate the joys and frustrations of adventure travel. The only thing missing is a good index to guide the reader quickly to places visited. VERDICT Definitely exciting reading for would-be travelers and those who share the author's delight in unusual and strange travel adventures.-Olga Wise, formerly with Compaq Computers Inc., Austin, TX (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

The globe-trotting adventures of former magazine editor Podell (co-author: Who Needs a Road?: The Story of the Longest and Last Motor Journey Around the World, 1967).Having traversed the world on an ambitious, fraught, 581-day Trans-World Record Expedition with Harold Stephens in 1965-1966, Brooklyn-born Podell renewed his vow in 2000 to try to reach all the countries in the world. At the time, he was "dimly aware there were between 190 and 200 countries." Juggling a New York law practice, he set out sporadically over the next decade, either in the company of a beautiful young woman ("a legacy from my previous post as an editor at Playboy") or stalwart male cohorts, to trek through some difficult and often politically explosive terrain. Chronicling his travels through South and Central America, West Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, he offers entertaining highlights of evidently arduous yet well-planned trips. Figuring out what constituted a countrye.g., membership in the U.N. was not always a given (Taiwan, Vatican City and Kosovo)and obtaining visas to certain dictatorial hot spots were nearly impossible. Although his "do-do list" gets tiresome, the author's tales are unquestionably entertaining. He trekked up Mount Vaea in Samoa to visit the grave of another "teller of tales," his idol Robert Louis Stevenson; gamely tried all manner of ghastly edibles, including still-pulsating monkey brain; and talked his way out of numerous dangerous scrapes. Though a well-hardened traveler, Podell occasionally shows his pampered Western roots, such as in ranking a country's comfort level by the quality of its toilet paper: the Podell Potty Paper Rating (PPPR1 being "soft white," and 7 means "no public toilets at all"). While he writes warmly of kindly inhabitants and creatures, he is extremely critical of Haiti and parts of Africa where the education gap neglects to teach people "how to think"like this canny American, at least. The book features occasionally salacious details, but there is never a dull moment. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.