I Wouldn't Start from Here: The 21st Century and Where It All Went Wrong

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Overview

What is a jaded rock journalist doing dodging landmines to talk to mercenaries and terrorists? And what kind of conversation can a man who prefers hunting for perfect three-minute pop songs and tubes of beer have with devotees of fasting and ferocity?
Sarajevo. Jerusalem. Kabul. Belfast. Kosovo. Gaza. Basra. New York City. Every place where recent history advertises the stubbornness, intolerance, bloodlust, and cowardice that sully our collective record, there the intrepid ...

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I Wouldn't Start from Here: The 21st Century and Where It All Went Wrong

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Overview

What is a jaded rock journalist doing dodging landmines to talk to mercenaries and terrorists? And what kind of conversation can a man who prefers hunting for perfect three-minute pop songs and tubes of beer have with devotees of fasting and ferocity?
Sarajevo. Jerusalem. Kabul. Belfast. Kosovo. Gaza. Basra. New York City. Every place where recent history advertises the stubbornness, intolerance, bloodlust, and cowardice that sully our collective record, there the intrepid Andrew Mueller goes, skidding around the globe from failed state to ravaged war zone to desolate no-man’s-land to try to unpick why we humans seem so prone to plucking war from the jaws of peace.
En route, he meets various influential panjandrums (Al Gore, Gerry Adams, Bono, Paddy Ashdown), any number of assorted warlords and revolutionaries, and a sprinkling of peacemakers and do-gooders. He also manages to get shot at, locked up, and taken on a tour by one of the world’s most infamous terrorist organizations. It’s like a Bond film with much, much less sex, and might appear for that and other reasons to be substantially a story of disappointment. Yet it’s a surprisingly sunny book given the mire in which he finds himself.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A helter-skelter travelogue in which London-based journalist Mueller endures blasts of rhetoric from the likes of Bono, various nationalists and pundits, as well as blasts of bombs and bad vibes in all corners of the world. The title is ironic, referring to a pat Irish reply to lost tourists seeking their way from point A to point B. Mueller, a specialist in point Zs, honors no beaten paths, and though he's not exactly lost most of the time, he's not found either. This rollicking innocent-abroad tour of the world opens with a grim meditation on comparative cabbing that will make a cultural relativist wince, but that will please fans of P.J. O'Rourke: "Georgians are the worst drivers in the world, combining the mindless aggression of Lebanese, the terrifying fatalism of Pakistanis, the adolescent machismo of Italians, and the technical competence of baboons." Ouch. Things are just as bad off the road in various other third-world countries, which is, Mueller observes, why so many people are clamoring to migrate to places such as Sweden and Canada, while so few Swedes and Canadians are clamoring to migrate to Myanmar or Lesotho. Mueller turns up bright spots in such unexpected milieus as Albania and Abkhazia, and he finds high points of many kinds along his travels, with sympathies plainly expressed-if China wants Taiwan, he ventures, then give it the island, after all the Taiwanese migrate to the West. Yet his travels are mostly designed, it seems, to show how the wrong roads taken have led to the regimes in Iraq and Tripoli-and, for that matter, Washington, D.C.-the bloodshed that plagues the globe and the various lunacies that keep people on a Hobbesian rather than Lockean schedule.Politically savvy and unafraid to be controversial (but not unnecessarily). An eye-opener for students of geopolitics and a useful primer for would-be globetrotters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593762186
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it!

    From the very first page I could tell I would love this book. Being a journalism student, traveling the world and interviewing people in power and those just trying to live in peace is one of my dreams. Mueller was able to do that and details his travels and conversations with humor and an interesting insight.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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