Found this book in a Google book search as a free e-book courtesy of the University of Virginia library. Oh Google, I can't quit you.
Cecil Charles traFound this book in a Google book search as a free e-book courtesy of the University of Virginia library. Oh Google, I can't quit you.
Cecil Charles travels to Honduras in the 1880s and writes this book for fellow Americans who want to strike it rich in Honduras, taking the country for all it is worth. (No kidding, more on this later...) Heavy in descriptions, Charles describes each leg of his journey, from the Pacific coast to Tegucigalpa, where he spends a good deal of time, hobnobbing with fellow Americans and Europeans, visiting American companies (specifically silver mines), and making friends with the Honduran president. Charles takes this cultural task very seriously, offering up paragraphs of advice on things like public health (wash your hands! don't go barefoot!) to relationships with the "natives", who are not quite the savages that you would imagine them to be (his words!) and will work for very little. He propagates every last stereotype, but then comes around and says how much he loves the country and his time there. In fact, this is the model of the book: COMPLAIN COMPLAIN COMPLAIN (riding on burros and mules, muddy roads, poor lodgings, dim-witted guides and porters, insufficient food) and then say "Oh, I love it here because their coffee is good." It is truly laughable.
Perhaps the most enlightening to a modern reader is latter half of the book, where Charles describes how best to exploit all the resources the country has to offer: lands free for the taking! timber! plantations! I mean, he really thinks that he is offering some sort of major service to his fellow countrymen (which I suppose he might have to the industrious fortune-seekers who were completely on-board with American imperialism in both the financial and cultural sense). His most shocking diatribe - the one that made me gasp and my jaw drop to the floor - was reserved for a racist rant against the "Caribs" of the North Coast (presumably the Garifuna people in coastal Honduras and Belize). Until that point, I was ready to accept "ol' Cecil" as a typical gringo with his "white people problems" - but that rant was unforgivable (and totally unnecessary in the context of the book, truthfully. I guess his racist feelings just ran so deep that he felt he needed to mention them as a side note? Inexcusable, even for this time...)
That being said, this book is a rare glimpse into the world of 1880s Central America - right as American and Europeans were beginning to flood to the various country to strike it rich. It's a telling portrait, and a harbinger for what was to come for the Isthmus (and Honduras in particular) in the coming decades.
I will refrain from rating this book - it is just too controversial and dated, but it was a goldmine for my research into the region during this period, so for that reason, it was extremely useful....more
This could have been such an interesting story had it been written by someone else entirely... disjointed, frenetic, immature, and in need of a good eThis could have been such an interesting story had it been written by someone else entirely... disjointed, frenetic, immature, and in need of a good editor. The writing style offended me a few times, and as some of the other reviewers mentioned, there was just this air of "privilege" that came across in the writing. I read the first third of the book and then just skimmed - couldn't really stand it anymore....more
I probably shouldn't be allowed to read books like this because it gives me such insatiable wanderlust... not the right thing for an unemployed personI probably shouldn't be allowed to read books like this because it gives me such insatiable wanderlust... not the right thing for an unemployed person to have! The format of the book is very helpful with the eponymous 100 countries listed in alphabetical order. Each section highlights basic facts and tips about the featured destination, and a sidebar column also provides info on the Pros/Cons and Safety Tips for different regions within the country.
I was able to brush up on some geography and add more places to the bucket list. Like all National Geographic publications, it features jaw-dropping photographs and detailed maps. As with any print media, there are political and cultural disputes that arise that change some of these destinations (even with the 2011 release date) and their attractions. The safety notices are the most affected with the recent revolutions and political shifts in the Middle East (Egypt, Tunisia) and the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Not common to read reference books like this cover-to-cover, but I did and found it quite enjoyable. ...more
Great overview for travel and exploration in SE Alaska. The historical research at the beginning was well done, and the practical guides about the floGreat overview for travel and exploration in SE Alaska. The historical research at the beginning was well done, and the practical guides about the flora and fauna were also very good. A great resource for travel in the area. ...more