An often fun account of a spontaneous trip through Europe.


A debut travel memoir recounts a young man’s experiences hitchhiking through Europe in 1970.

In the spring of 1970, Casper landed in Paris. The 21-year-old had a year’s worth of experience at a Chicago graphic design firm, but—inspired in part by the novels of Hemingway and W. Somerset Maugham—he decided to move to Paris and get a job at a prestigious ad agency. “I’d create great ads,” he fantasized. “I’d probably be around beautiful French models so often that I would get to know most of them and date some. If you wanted to find me, you’d check Paris’s best restaurants, cafes or nightclubs.” Needless to say, things didn’t go exactly as planned. After only a week, his job prospects already foiled, he came across an unusual business opportunity: importing sheepskin coats from Afghanistan. All Casper had to do was take the Orient Express to Kabul, buy a bunch of coats for $10 a pop, and sell them in London for $200 each. He and a friend booked tickets on the train, but they only made it as far as Istanbul before the plan fell apart. Yet the author’s escapades were not at an end. As a “Road Knight,” his improvising and hitchhiking continued through some 20 countries over the span of several months, meeting fascinating women, exploring treacherous terrain, and landing in a Dutch jail. Casper is a practiced storyteller, and he relates his experiences in conversational prose. At one point, he was on the island of Formentera, near Ibiza, Spain: “I started to become somewhat unnerved by the situation. I reminded myself that I was on a strange island in the middle of nowhere, following a group of strangers in the dark to an unknown destination, all to take part in some kind of ancient ritual that was sure to be at the very least a bit bizarre.” Interspersed throughout the book are poems by the author on related subjects, like “Paris at Night” and “The Road.” The story moves quickly thanks to Casper’s general impulsiveness, and there are some enjoyable anecdotes here. But within the context of travel writing, the memoir is not terribly sociological or emotionally revelatory. The strongest sense readers will feel by the book’s end is a desire to have a similar adventure themselves.

An often fun account of a spontaneous trip through Europe.

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4999-0563-2

Page Count: 426

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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