Baghdad Without a Map: And Other Misadventures in Arabia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452267459
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 322,820
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Horwitz
Tony Horwitz
Humorist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz's vicarious voyages span everything from modern-day Civil War re-enactments to long-forgotten courses of discovery. His charismatic chronicles of derring-do have garnered Horwitz a reputation for traveling where few men would dare to tread -- and writing about it so they don't have to.

Biography

On a ferry into Beirut that had just squeaked past several rounds of Syrian cannon fire, a fellow traveler commended Tony Horwitz for being jusqu'au boutiste, or "right to the edge" -- explaining that "It mean you are very brave. And maybe very stupid." As a former Wall Street Journal reporter and current New Yorker staff writer, Horwitz has gone places most of us are either not brave -- or stupid -- enough to venture to, and returned with a collection of absorbing, affecting, often hilarious tales set in locales from the Sudan to the American South.

Horwitz's intercontinental roamings started when he married fellow reporter Geraldine Brooks and followed her to her native Australia. His first book, One for the Road, recounts his adventures hitchhiking across the Australian Outback. When Brooks got an assignment as a foreign correspondent in Cairo in 1987, Horwitz went along, looking for the kind of quirky feature stories that as a freelance writer he might sell to editors back in the States. His second book, Baghdad Without a Map, zings around the Middle East, from a qat-chewing party in Yemen to a leper colony in Sudan, from the aforementioned ferry ride to an almost equally terrifying flight on Egyptair. It was a national bestseller, praised by The New York Times Book Review as "a very funny and frequently insightful look at the world's most combustible region."

After moving to Virginia in 1993, Horwitz embarked on a different kind of travel, producing another bestseller. Confederates in the Attic describes his journey across the South and his quest to understand the impact of the Civil War on contemporary America. He meets "hardcore" reenacters who soak brass buttons in urine for just the right patina, earnest Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, drunken biker Klansmen, and even a few ordinary people who happen to live south of the Mason-Dixon line. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the book "Good natured and generously funny: moving, chilling, and beautiful."

Horwitz then returned to world travel, this time spurred by an obsession with the eighteenth-century explorer Captain James Cook. For Blue Latitudes, Horwitz visits the islands charted by Cook, intertwining his own travel narrative with the life and writings of the once-famous captain. "Despite the historical focus, Horwitz doesn't stray too far from the encounters with everyday people that gave his previous books such zest," Publishers Weekly noted in a starred review.

Though Horwitz is the kind of breezy, pithy writer who "could make a book on elevators interesting" (The Philadelphia Inquirer), critics seem to agree that his genius is for getting to know people on his travels. Whether he's chatting with a Yemeni arms dealer, a Confederate widow or the King of Tonga, Horwitz likes "to get inside the heads of those I'm writing about by sharing their experiences," as he said in an interview on his publisher's Web site. "The same goes for history: while I wouldn't pretend that I can know what it was to be a Civil War soldier or a sailor aboard one of Cook's ships, I can try to get a better understanding of it." Those of us who aren't so jusqu'au boutiste can improve our understanding simply by turning Horwitz's highly entertaining pages.

Good To Know

The hardest part of researching Blue Latitudes, Horwitz said in a History House interview, was working aboard a replica of Cook's first ship, the Endeavour. "[It] was a challenge, to say the least, to find myself atop the 127-foot main mast, in heavy seas, trying to furl sails. It was like lifting weights while being shaken from the top of a very tall tree."

Before becoming a journalist, Horwitz worked for a pulpwood haulers' union in Mississippi. He produced a television documentary about the experience, "Mississippi Wood."

Horwitz was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for a Wall Street Journal series on working conditions in low-wage jobs.

His wife, Geraldine Brooks, was also a Wall Street Journal reporter before she began writing fiction. The two live in Virginia with their son, Nathaniel.

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Waterford, Virginia
    1. Date of Birth:
      1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brown University; M.A., Columbia University School of Journalism

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I discovered Tony Horwitz when I was at a book club meeting where we reviewing a book written by his wife, Geraldine Brooks. I picked up his books on the way home and have not stopped reading his books since.

    I guess it helps to be a history buff, but honestly, he is funny!
    Baghdad Without a Map gives you an insiders view of all the different personailites of each of the Arab nations. Or perhaps, I just loved the excitement of the life of a foreign correspondant. I'm hooked......keep on writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2008

    Insight on life in the Middle East

    In this book, Tony Horwitz gives a first-hand account of the daily life of people in the Middle East in the 1990¿s. Being a journalist, he is able to recall and describe the events he witnesses with astonishing clarity, making the picture that much more realistic. This book comes from a time when America was not always the enemy, and he is able to gather stories and experiences that we could no longer hear. The fact that he is Jewish makes it all the more interesting, because nowadays we cannot imagine a Jewish journalist traveling through the most anti-Zionist region in the world. Overall, a very well written book that really pulls the reader in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2004

    Interesting and Fun

    I'm not usually drawn to travel narratives but this one caught my eye at the bookstore because of its title, obviously very topical. I truly enjoyed this tale. It seemed to describe adventures that any traveler who went off the beater path could experience. It was breezy and light and, although published in '91, probably still relevent. I've never been to the region, but you can't pick-up a newspaper withhout reading about the very places the author vistis in this book, and that makes it enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2004

    Loved it!!

    was a great book! I couldn't STOP reading it! great, funny, and interesting!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2002

    Product Placement....for shame!

    Why is Pepsi mentioned about 4 times? Soft drink, soda, would work. About the only other brand name mentioned was Duracell which was mentioned once. The transitions between chapters needs work. Excellent use of scent description of the environments. Olafactory images are very powerful. Smashing sense of humour but the author is a little to smitten with his own cleverness. Trys just a little too hard. "Coup attempts were common in Khartoum, . . ." is slightly on the sophmoric side. Clever type layout on pages 236-237. At the bottom of p 236 "He jabbed his Kalashnikov through the window and fired . . . At the top of p. 237 "questions at the driver." Other than that, Horwitz's work is the best yet on the Middle East. It's one of those books that one can not wait to take up again. Perfect for the plane ride from LAX to New Zealand.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2001

    Great book!

    Definitly funny and insightfull. I have been to Egypt two times and his chapters on Cairo are my favorites. This book only lasted me 2 days, but left me wanting more chapters and more stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2001

    Hilarious

    I made the mistake of reading this book in a public place. People stared because I couldn't stop laughing out loud, but I couldn't bring myself to stop reading, either. 'Baghdad Without A Map' is hands down the best travel book I've ever encountered. I'm currently reading it for the second time, and enjoying it as much as I did the first. Mr. Horwitz is an immensely talented writer.

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