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The Panama Hat Trail

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  123 ratings  ·  23 reviews

This 15th anniversary reissue of Miller's travel classic follows the making and marketing of a single Panama hat. It's a captivating story of cultures in collision, raw capitalism, and an exotic, humorous journey.

Paperback, 271 pages
Published March 12th 1988 by Vintage (first published 1986)
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Giovanna
One of the few books I've found about Ecuador...the book is nominally about the manufacture and distribution of Panama hats, but more a window to the Ecuadorean culture and people. And you get a description of what cuy (guinea pig) actually tastes like. And a chapter about Bemelmans--who wrote a travel book (The Donkey Inside), a kids' book (Quito Express), and a novel (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep)taking place in Ecuador.
Andrew Hecht
Mar 12, 2010 Andrew Hecht rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone planning to travel to Ecuador
My brother, his wife, who is from Quito, and my mom are headed down to Ecaudor in the next few weeks. For my mom and my brother, it will be their first trip to South America. I'm very excited for them, and, well, a little jealous, because I've never been to Ecuador.

I can't make it on this trip, but I will make it some day. Instead I took a virtual trip courtesy of Tom Miller's, The Panama Hat Trail, one the hundreds of unread travel narratives on my bookshelves.

The premise of the book is that M
...more
Judy
Feb 06, 2008 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: Jim who read Miller's 2 Cuba travel books
The story of a panama hat, part travelogue, well mostly travelogue but travel writing at its best. You learn about Equador's (yes, that's where all Panama hats are made)culture and history. There's something about the tone of the book, a certain leisurelyness and trust, that made it clear it was written a few years old (originally published 1988) I can't imagine someone having the same experience today, post 911. While the "mysterious trail" angle is unnecessary and annoying (no one is preventin ...more
Brooke Everett
Full of interesting tidbits about Ecuador and South America's culture. At times the tone could be a little flat, but overall this is a book that goes quickly and is a worthwhile armchair adventure. His descriptions of places, particularly Quito, were fantastic.

"'The man who doesn't like clouds has no business coming to Ecuador," wrote the Belgian Henri Michaux in 1928. 'They're the faithful dogs of the mountains."" p. 9

"Indians were 'reduced to the most abject state of servitude and bondage,' ob
...more
Glenn Pearson
Enjoyable book and I liked the style of writing -- interesting takes on Ecuador and its people. and of course we learn about the panama hat!
Jon
I think this book would work better if, as a reader, I'd dipped into it every now and again...as opposed to reading it straight through. The book has charm, but not much of a narrative propulsion. I was slightly disappointed by the weak frame of the narrative (i.e. following the a panama hat from creation the storefront...I think the idea is a solid one, but the execution was too meandering. The whole third part of the book leaves the trail and just meanders around Ecuador and Colombia. Overall ...more
Robin Costic
Enjoyed the travel and cultural descriptions as well as the tidbits about Ecuadorian culture.
Mark Jamison
Not sure this book would resonate much with someone who hasn't been or isn't planning to go to Ecuador, but I read most of it in a sleepy little town in the Andes mountains in Ecuador where I'll be moving in less than a year, so the anecdotes and the bits of historical and cultural information were particularly interesting. There aren't many travel books about Ecuador, so if you're planning a visit (or a move), read this. Otherwise, maybe not.
John
This is one of the best travel books ever written. While the main current of the book is the story of where Panama hats come from (hint: Ecuador), Miller explains a lot of Latin American history and culture. While often funny, the book never makes fun of Latin America. An excellent interweaving of a lot of information into a captivating and well-written narrative.
Emily
Enjoyable book about Panama hats (which are actually from Ecuador!). I read most of this book before I went to Ecuador this past summer, and I enjoyed the travelogue about places I was about to visit. The writing is fine and the storyline so-so. It wasn't outstanding in its own right but somewhat fun because of my personal connection with the places.
David
If you ever wanted to find out how and where the famous straw hats were made, this is the book for you. Witty, funny, and sensitively told journey of the author's search for the Panama Hat and its origins.
Carmen
Awesome! I would definitely recommend it. The journey takes you to remote parts of Ecuador in the mid 80s to the source of the making of the famous Panama Hats.
Johanna
The book gave me the deisre to embark on the same trip until I spent time in Guatemala and saw how people drive there...A great armchair adventure
Angela
A nice and short little tome covering Ecuador and its Panama hat industry. I just travelled in Ecuador, so it was interesting to recover some of that ground.
Halle Butvin
Great book - a fascinating look at Ecuador through the Panama Hat supply chain (Panama Hats are actually made in Ecuador)
Laurel
Great book on the mis-named Ecuadorian hats... good for folks who would like to come visit! (wink wink, nudge nudge!)
Deb
Cool book especially if you plan on traveling to ecuador, peru etc in the near future.
anjali
Not the best, but it is an OK story about the Panama hat from Ecuador.
Audrey Stephens
A very enjoyable read, especially for those who have visited Ecuador.
Nicole
The politics and history of the Panama hat.
Riley
Ah, the Panama hat: Ecuador's most famous export.
Tommyb
South America,Travel,History
David Vanness
Oct 23, 2011 David Vanness marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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Tom Miller has been writing about the American Southwest and Latin America for more than three decades. His ten books include The Panama Hat Trail, which follows the making and marketing of one Panama hat, and Trading with the Enemy, which Lonely Planet says "may be the best travel book about Cuba ever written." Miller began his journalism career in the underground press of the late '60s and early ...more
More about Tom Miller...
Trading With The Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro's Cuba How I Learned English: 55 Accomplished Latinos Recall Lessons in Language and Life Travelers' Tales Cuba: True Stories Jack Ruby's Kitchen Sink: Offbeat Travels Through America's Southwest (Adventure Press) Writing on the Edge: A Borderlands Reader

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