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I Wouldn't Start From Here: A Misguided Tour of the Early 21st Century
Andrew Mueller doesn't consider himself a "proper" journalist, and yet he's travelled from Afghanistan to Abkhazia, from Belfast to Belgrade and from Tirana to Tripoli in search of a good story. I Wouldn't Start From Here is his random history of the 21st century so far, and all its attendant absurdities, intermittent horrors and occasional glimmers of hope. It features ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published 2007 by Pan Macmillan Australia
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I went to see Andrew Mueller reading from this book last summer. I'd never heard of him before. There were about eight people in the audience, maybe, which in retrospect seems to fit in nicely with his generally self-deprecating humour (in the book's afterword, he refers to "my own sensationally ill-attended book signings at the Sydney Writers' Festival"). I've now read the book twice, frequently read out bits to travel companions in between guffawing, and given a copy to Rupert for his birthday ...more
Jul 09, 2015 John rated it really liked it · review of another edition
I stopped this long (15 hour) audiobook partway through, or I wouldn't have been able to finish it. Muller bounces around between "trouble spots" (Yugoslavia, Palestine, Northern Ireland, etc.), with rarely a letup in the gloom; to his credit, he does focus on the resilience of the locals in the face of adversity, making his point that these conflicts have been perpetuated for the sake of perpetuating them. He does come off as fairly one-sided regarding Palestine, focusing on the brutal Israeli ...more
Hilarious plus informative, a nice combo. The author started out as a rock journalist and--I'm not sure he makes it absolutely clear how this happened--morphed into a travel journalist covering recent and current conflict zones. Each chapter tackles a visit to some dangerous or otherwise forbidding place in the early to mid first decade of this century, with amusing insight into the machinations needed to visit and do any kind of journalism in such places. It took me a while to get used to the t ...more
Mueller is a journalist and this is an edited collection of articles which are a sort of travelogue of trouble spots (mainly; he also goes to Luxembourg!) in the first few years of the 21st century. They're basically Mueller trying to get a handle on what the hell is going on. I was a bit worried when the first chapter featured Bono and I realised Mueller is a (former?) rock journalist. I was not in the mood for celebrity sycophancy, so I was relieved to see this was a one-off. There are some we ...more
I liked Mueller's other book, Rock and Hard Places: Travels to Backstages, Frontlines and Assorted Sideshows, but in retrospect it was largely because of the famous people with whom he hobnobbed. Bono in particular. Bono is fascinating to me. That level of fame produces a reality distortion field. It must be like living in a different universe. Bono seems cooler than your average rock star though. An old school irish raconteur. I bet he'd be fun to sit next to at a dinner party.
Anyway, I Wouldn' ...more
Anyway, I Wouldn' ...more
Mueller, a former rock music critic, has produced a highly intelligent travelogue of hotspots of the early 21st century. He's sort of a Robert Kaplan of the Twitter generation. His rampant sense of humour mostly works and considering the places he reports from which include Baghdad, Serbia, Gaza, Kabul, Tripoli and Belfast, it's needed. Two of his best pieces are on getting arrested in Cameroon and meeting the irrepressible Paddy Ashdown in Bosnia. Mueller's head and heart are in the right place ...more
I do not usually find books listed under the "travel" and "humor" labels to lend much to either label. What i (still) find fascinating about Mueller and his work, is the degree to which the "no worries, mate" of his Australian heritage combines with his remarkable skill in naming the passion that is the heart-beat of who ever or where ever he happens to find himself. Yes, his writing his laden with loose prose and thoughtfulness, as well as the uncanny ability to be funny about situations that a ...more
This book made me laugh and cry. It was a very informative and interesting look at what has happened in the world since 2000. At the end, the author quotes from the constitution, and this is what brought tears to my eyes, and stated that even though most of the book was not centered on America "this is still the one country against which others measure and/or define themselves. This is still the one country that inspires and infuriates like no other. And that's because it's a country which has s ...more
An engaging tour of the twenty-first century's hotspots accompanied by Mueller's insightful, skeptical, infuriated, affectionate commentary. From the mind-numbing fanaticism of some of the world's most militant adversaries to the heart-warming interactions with locals simply caught up in something bigger than themselves, this unique travelogue brings the reader to places he would never otherwise go. Mueller's assessment of man's inhumanity toward man is right on in some places while in others hi ...more
Funny, poignant and occasionally desperately horrible. Andrew Mueller takes the reader through a tour of the 21st century's trouble spots, with a sharp eye for the ridiculous and a strong smattering of commonsense. He seldom takes sides, but manages to pinpoint the idiocy of violence as a solution for world problems. And every now and again he stumbles across a small enclave of hope. This author clearly LIKES people, and has a big heart, despite his cynicism. A wildly entertaining read that inco ...more
To look at this perplexing world and world events through the eyes of sometimes courageous, sometimes downright certifiable, people was fascinating, infuriating, moving, enlightening and above all thought provoking. I loved the writing style - funny while also being perceptive and deeply serious. A wonderful read.
Sep 17, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
A good snapshot of how the 21st century isn't any better than the 20th century. Raised more questions for me than answers, and I'm now eagerly waiting for Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life
Although the book is witty and very well written. The sentences are well structured but exceedingly difficult to read. I have to go back over a sentence quite often to get to grips with what Andrew is trying to say. I'll keep going, until something else comes along. I'll finish it eventually......
Aug 31, 2014 Rick rated it really liked it · review of another edition
4.5 Stars. Engrossing collection of stories recounting the author's travels to a number of the world's troubled hot-spots in the first decade of the 21st century. Despite the grim reality of life (and death) in many of these places, the overall tone of the book is anything but depressing.