A Jerusalem-based CNN correspondent’s memoir of round-the-world travel with a near-fatal disease.
In 2013, Liebermann and his wife left their jobs, determined to circumnavigate the globe on the cheap. The itinerary included Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America. Just shy of 30 and after only six years in broadcast news, declaring that “in making a living, I had failed to make a life” seems a little premature, even melodramatic. Alas, melodrama often overtakes the narrative and the narrator, whose overworked tear ducts seem a form of artistic expression. Apart from some harrowing close calls with diabetes, especially in Nepal, Liebermann tends to overstate his day-to-day accounts of dealing with his disease and roughing it on the road. The book harbors flashes of close observation and inspired description—e.g., his depictions of the Laotian people, his thoughts while camped (illegally) on the Great Wall of China, his account of the death of an anonymous man in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Unfortunately, these moments of inspiration are only intermittent, and the rest of the book suffers by comparison. For all his adventurousness and determination, Liebermann betrays a penchant for hasty judgments, weak generalizations, and trite pronouncements. When not detailing his duel with diabetes, which will resonate chiefly with other diabetics, he delivers a breezy series of snapshots and vignettes—engaging as far as they go but hardly the stuff of a memorable travelogue. Just because an insight is new to him does not mean it is of fresh coinage to readers, and Liebermann has a tendency to express a familiar observation as if it is being made for the first time. But it is a young man's book, a young traveler's book, and perhaps one should make allowances.
As a travel writer, Liebermann is a work in progress, but the talent is there, needing only to be honed and refined.