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Reviewing Carl Hoffman's 'The Lunatic Express'

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The Lunatic ExpressWow.

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.

Carl Hoffman, you must have outdone yourself on this one. Seeking out the world’s most dangerous forms of transportation while traveling to some of the craziest places? Please sir, give me more; this is by far the most outrageous RTW trip anyone has ever attempted.

Rightfully named The Lunatic Express, Carl basically went on an extended suicide mission, or more likely, a game of transportation roulette. So what if 3 people had already died that day on the Mumbai trains; he still wanted to experience the chaos for himself, and he did so in a way that brought him (and the reader) face to face with culture, the people, as well as the harsh reality of what daily risk some parts of the world deal with just to get to work on time.

We have it so good living a life where our buses run on schedules, our planes rarely crash and our ferries almost never sink. Being in a developed world full of money, we never truly think about the underlayer that has to put their life in danger by taking low-grade death traps to get… anywhere. Sure, riding the chicken buses of Central and South America is almost a novelty for backpackers wanting a little excitement and authenticity, but how many times have you actually thought about checking the baldness of those tires before hopping on board?

Reading The Lunatic Express will definitely get you to question vehicle safety standards while on the road, so I do suggest not reading it while on the train (like I did), in a car or on a plane to name a few. And, if you can, it is best to not dwell on the fact that you may have flown Aeroflot from Ukraine to Moscow to Kyrgyzstan in 2008. Who knew I was that much of a gambler?!

Beyond the facts, Carl gives us so much more. As a traveler, I could somewhat relate to his personal story; the one where travel became like a drug, but for him it was so much so that he lost touch with himself and what was important in his real life while seeking it out. I think with many travelers, we all have a sense of needing to experience more, and this sometimes leaves us taking for granted what we already have available to us.

However, the trip did lead Carl to realize this downfall, and when he finally had the time to think about his own life and why he was doing what he was doing, he made a lovely little quote that every traveler traveling for the sake of travel should think about:

“Travel was only worthwhile when your eyes were fresh, when it surprised you and amazed you and made you think about yourself in a new way. You couldn’t travel forever. When you stopped seeing, when you lost your curiosity and openness to the world it was time to return to your starting point and see where you stood.”

The Lunatic Express is a book I cannot go without recommending to any off-the-beaten-path travelers I know. From the superb writing and captivating storyline, to the chaos and intrigue of a world unknown, the reader will surely want more. Thank you, Carl, for sharing it all with us.

If you would like to learn more about Carl Hoffman and The Lunatic Express, please visit the website or follow @lunaticcarl on Twitter. You can purchase a fresh copy of the new book by visiting Amazon or many other sellers.

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8 Responses to Reviewing Carl Hoffman's 'The Lunatic Express'

  1. brookeschoenman March 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    FANTASTIC book by @lunaticcarl – The Lunatic Express (my review) http://bit.ly/cBqEiJ #travel #adventure #lp #rtw

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. lunaticcarl March 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Wow, Thks! Rt @brookeschoenman FANTASTIC book by @lunaticcarl – The Lunatic Express (my review) http://bit.ly/cBqEiJ #travel #adventure #rtw

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. brookeschoenman March 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    I may have risked my life by flying Aeroflot, but this dude did a heck of a lot more — http://bit.ly/cBqEiJ #adventure #travel #lp

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  4. globetrotteri March 24, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    Reviewing Carl Hoffman’s ‘The Lunatic Express’ | Brooke vs. the World | RTW Travel Blog http://ff.im/-hX8wQ

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  5. Bethisreadyforanotherroadtrip March 28, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    This sounds like a great book Brooke! I am going to be spending more time on the boat and I was just thinking that I wanted a new book to read. I will see if I can find this one and check it out!

    • Brooke March 28, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

      It really is worth the read! I HIGHLY recommend it to all my traveling friends!

  6. Sh0nuff April 24, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    That quote reflects what you should have realized back when you made the insane “visit me or else” post. Some of us have seen a lot in this world already. Some of it was grand, other parts were horrifying. Maybe next time someone doesn’t “get it” you will remember what lunaticcarl said.

    • Brooke April 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

      Awesome, “Sh0nuff”. Thanks for the comment, really. I must have offended you personally somehow or else you wouldn’t have left it? And, why do you feel the need to hide your identity? You obviously have an opinion, so just share it, ya know?

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