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One for the Road: Hitchhiking Through the Australian Outback

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"A high-spirited, comic ramble into the savage Outback populated by irreverent, beer-guzzling frontiersmen." —Chicago Tribune

"A fascinating insight into what we're all about on the highways and byways along the outback track." —The Telegraph (Sydney)

Swept off to live in Sydney by his Australian bride, American writer Tony Horwitz longs to explore the exotic reaches of his adopted land. So one day, armed only...

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"A high-spirited, comic ramble into the savage Outback populated by irreverent, beer-guzzling frontiersmen." —Chicago Tribune

"A fascinating insight into what we're all about on the highways and byways along the outback track." —The Telegraph (Sydney)

Swept off to live in Sydney by his Australian bride, American writer Tony Horwitz longs to explore the exotic reaches of his adopted land. So one day, armed only with a backpack and fantasies of the open road, he hitchhikes off into the awesome emptiness of Australia's outback.
        What follows is a hilarious, hair-raising ride into the hot red center of a continent so desolate that civilization dwindles to a gas pump and a pub. While the outback's terrain is inhospitable, its scattered inhabitants are anything but. Horwitz entrusts himself to Aborigines, opal diggers, jackeroos, card sharks, and sunstruck wanderers who measure distance in the number of beers consumed en route. Along the way, Horwitz discovers that the outback is as treacherous as it is colorful. Bug-bitten, sunblasted, dust-choked, and bloodied by a near-fatal accident, Horwitz endures seven thousand miles of the world's most forbidding real estate, and some very bizarre personal encounters, as he winds his way to Queensland, Alice Springs, Perth, Darwin—and a hundred bush pubs in between.
        Horwitz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of two national bestsellers, Confederates in the Attic and Baghdad Without a Map, is the ideal tour guide for anyone who has ever dreamed of a genuine Australian adventure.

"Lively, fast-paced and amusing . . . a consistently interesting and entertaining account." —Kirkus Reviews

"Ironical, perceptive and subtle . . . will have readers getting out their maps and itching to follow Horwitz's tracks. . . . The internal journey is his finest achievement; he allows the reader into his heart, to go travelling with him there, sharing his adventures of the spirit." —Sunday Times (London)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Having spent months in Sydney without seeing the ``real'' Australia, American journalist Horwitz sets out to hitchhike solo through the continent's rugged interior. He discovers this to be infernally hot, flat and fly-ridden, with the only above-ground liquid to be found in the ``hotels'' (pubs) that dot the lone highway at irregular intervals. Aptly titled, One for the Road is as much a chronicle of the pubs along the way as of the scenery. In the Northern Territory, besides being the national beverage, beer is also a unit of measure and standard of currency. It is ``about a six-pack''or one beer every eight minutesto the next roadhouse; fixing a car's tail pipe costs ``a carton.'' Horwitz has a delightfully wry style and an eye for absurdity, evident in descriptions of himself warding off a sandstorm by wearing five pairs of jockey shorts on his headwith his nose sticking out of the fliesof a sailboat race on a dry riverbed and of the nonappearance of Halley's Comet. But he also appreciates the massive beauty of Ayers Rock, seat of Aboriginal culture, the wisdom of a prosperous cattleman and the peaceful charm of Broome, a tropical seaport, where he looks up the town's only Jewish family to celebrate Passover. A glossary of Aussie terms is provided. (June)
Library Journal
This recounting of one American's hitchhiking odyssey through the outback in 1986 unfortunately gives readers only the stereotypical aspects of Aussie life. From Sydney, Horwitz travels to Queensland, to Alice Springs, through Southern Australia to Western Australia, and then across the Northern Territory to Darwin before returning to his point of departure. Although the prose is at times pedestrian, the author does capture some of this hard land's essence: the isolation, the heat, and the barrenness punctuated only at irregular intervals by pubs. Still, the work lacks the insight and perceptual gifts associated with Paul Theroux or Graham Greene. For only the most comprehensive collections. Susan M. Unger, Madison P.L., N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375706134
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Series: Vintage Departures Series
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 410,850
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Horwitz

Tony Horwitz lives in Waterford, Virginia.


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.

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

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Ok but not more

    I have really loved his other work, but this was just not up to the standard of his other work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    Could Have Been Great

    Early on the story captivated me but then shortly after the car crash, the language became foul and very offensive. Perhaps that is how a writer writes when beer becomes a substitute for common sense. I gave it two stars only for the first portion of the book but the second half of the book left nothing for me but pity for the author who intentionally stooped to the lowest level. I took one star away because of the second half. I've never felt the desire to ask for my money back after reading this trash.
    Don't waste your money on this trash. I now no longer have a desire to read any of this authors books.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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