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 country—e.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 (PPPR—1 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.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)