Books by Michael J. McRae

Released: Jan. 10, 1994

Fourteen essays—most previously published in Outside and other magazines—by a world traveler and adventurer. In his introduction, McCrae muses on the reasons for his vagabondage (``a nomadic upbringing as a military brat, my romanticism, and the counterculture ethic of the sixties''). Usually, though, he's less introspective than, say, Paul Theroux, and less flashy than, say, Tim Cahill. This allows him to produce some fine profiles in which he never commits the error, common among adventure-journalists, of standing in front of his subject. Notable here are presentations of Jane Goodall, as brave and resolute as ever, despite tourists invading her land and her beloved chimps turning out to be cannibals; Richard Bangs, ``the P.T. Barnum of the adventure-travel industry,'' who manages a truck rally through the Amazon basin; Joe Cummings, author of a guidebook to Thailand; and Warren Pearson, a middle-aged professor from California who tried, unsuccessfully, to sail alone to Antarctica. McCrae spends much of his time in Africa, where, besides visiting Goodall, he fly-fishes in Kenya; rides an Arab dhow off the eastern coast; stomps through AIDS-infested villages and little-visited jungles in Uganda; and watches cheetahs stalk impalas under the Nairobi skyline. In South America, McCrae runs out of food while skiing the Patagonian icecap; in Asia, he listens to Michael Jackson records in Outer Mongolia and munches on croissants in the Holiday Inn in Tibet (``had it not been for the Tibetan staff in the coffee shop, I might have been in Dayton, Ohio'')—a nation that, he says, the Chinese are turning into a ``Buddhist World theme park.'' Small, upbeat, evanescent pieces: good reading on that next Everest expedition. Read full book review >