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by Michael Crichton

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"Curious, sensible, and irreverent...Crichton comes to see his travels—both in mind and through country—as ways of getting in better touch with himself."

Here is a record of Michael Crichton's astonishing adventures. It is a vision of travel not as escape but as exhilaration, as a testing of self, and as spiritual education.

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"Curious, sensible, and irreverent...Crichton comes to see his travels—both in mind and through country—as ways of getting in better touch with himself."

Here is a record of Michael Crichton's astonishing adventures. It is a vision of travel not as escape but as exhilaration, as a testing of self, and as spiritual education. Crichton shows us travel as turmoil and as peace. All of this voyages, outward and inward, from his twenties to his mid-forties, have been journeys into awareness—leading him to the excitement and benison of direct experience undimmed by expectations, theories, or old assumptions. His remarkable book is in itself a fascinating realm in which the adventurous are invited to travel.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A Harvard medical-school graduate, inveterate traveler and author of, among other books, The Great Train Robbery (the film version of which he directed), Crichton seeks in immediate experience of new places and cultures to ``redefine'' himself and uncover the nature of reality. His curiosity and self-deprecating humor animate recitals of adventures tracking animals in Malay jungles, climbing Kilimanjaro and Mayan pyramids in the Yucatan, trekking across a landslide in Pakistan, scuba diving in the Caribbean and New Guinea and amid sharks in Tahiti. This memoir includes essays on his medical training and forays into the psychic, including channeling and exorcism, that have led him to conclude that scientists and mystics share the same basic search for universal truth by different paths. 75,000 first printing; BOMC alternate; Franklin Library First Edition selection. (April)
Library Journal
Crichton, an accomplished novelist and filmmaker, here gives us autobiography. The first quarter of the book chronicles his gradual disillusionment with medical school and his decision not to practice medicine. His accounts of visits to remote places in Asia and Africa present a perspective on his personal life. Shuffled among these chapters are accounts of psychic experiences that include channeling, exorcism, and spoon-bending and end with a defense of ``paranormal experience.'' Crichton has had an interesting life, which he writes about in a crisp and disarmingly frank manner. His inner ``travels'' offer something for almost everyone.Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon State Coll. Lib., Ashland

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st Perennial Edition
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw.

The blade kept snagging the skin, and slipping off the smooth bone of the forehead. If I made a mistake, I slid to one side or the other, and I would not saw precisely down the center of the nose, the mouth, the chin, the throat. It required tremendous concentration. I had to pay close attention, and at the same time I could not really acknowledge what I was doing, because it was so horrible.

Four students had shared this cadaver for months, but it fell to me to cut open the old woman's head. I made the others leave the room while I worked on it. They couldn't watch without making jokes, which interfered with my concentration.

The bones of the nose were particularly delicate, I had to proceed carefully, to cut without shattering these tissue-thin bones. Several times I stopped, cleaned the bits of bone from the teeth of the blade with my fingertips, and then continued. As I sawed back and forth, concentrating on doing a good job, I was reminded that I had never imagined my life would turn out this way.

I had never particularly intended to become a doctor. I had grown up in a suburb of New York City, where my father was a journalist. No one in my family was a doctor, and my own early experiences with medicine were not encouraging: I fainted whenever I was given injections, or had blood drawn.

I had gone to college planning to become a writer, but early on a scientific tendency appeared. In the English department at Harvard, my writing style was severely criticized and I was receiving grades of C or C+ on my papers. At eighteen, I was vainabout my writing and felt it was Harvard, and not I, that was in error, so I decided to make an experiment. The next assignment was a paper on Gulliver's Travels, and I remembered an essay by George Orwell that might fit. With some hesitation, I retyped Orwell's essay and submitted it as my own. I hesitated because if I were caught for plagiarism I would be expelled; but I was pretty sure that my instructor was not only wrong about writing styles, but poorly read as well. In any case, George Orwell got a B- at Harvard, which convinced me that the English department was too difficult for me.

I decided to study anthropology instead. But I doubted my desire to continue as a graduate student in anthropology, so I began taking premed courses, just in case.

In general, I found Harvard an exciting place, where people were genuinely focused on study and learning, and with no special emphasis on grades. But to take a premed course was to step into a different world -- nasty and competitive. The most critical course was organic chemistry, Chem 20, and it was widely known as a "screw your buddy" course. In lectures, if you didn't hear what the instructor had said and asked the person next to you, he'd give you the wrong information; thus you were better off leaning over to look at his notes, but in that case hewas likely to cover his notes so you couldn't see. In the labs, if you asked the person at the next bench a question, he'd tell you the wrong answer in the hope that you would make a mistake or, even better, start a fire. We were marked down for starting fires. In my year, I had the dubious distinction of starting more lab fires than anyone else, including a spectacular ether fire that set the ceiling aflame and left large scorch marks, a stigmata of ineptitude hanging over my head for the rest of the year. I was uncomfortable with the hostile and paranoid attitude this course demanded for success. I thought that a humane profession like medicine ought to encourage other values in its candidates. But nobody was asking my opinion. I got through it as best I could. I imagine medicine to be a caring profession, and a scientific one as well. It was so fast-moving that its practitioners could not afford to be dogmatic; they would be flexible and open-minded. It was certainly interesting work, and there was no doubt that you were doing something worthwhile with your life, helping sick people.

So I applied to medical schools, took the Medical College Aptitude Tests, had my interviews, and was accepted. Then I got a fellowship for study in Europe, which postponed my start for a year.

But the following year I went to Boston, rented an apartment in Roxbury near the Harvard Medical School, bought my furniture, and registered for my classes. And it was at the registration that I first was confronted by the prospect of dissecting a human cadaver.

As first-year students, we had scrutinized the schedule and had seen that we would be given cadavers on the first day. We could talk of nothing else. We questioned the second-year students, old hands who regarded us with amused tolerance. They gave us advice. Try and get a man, not a woman. Try and get a black person, not a white. A thin person, not a fat one. And try to get one that hadn't been dead too many years.

Dutifully, we made notes and waited for the fateful Monday morning. We imagined the scene, remembered how Broderick Crawford had played it in Not as a Stranger, growling at the terrified students, "There's nothing funny about death," before he whipped the cover off the corpse.

In the amphitheater that morning, Don Fawcett, professor of anatomy, gave the first lecture. There was no corpse in the room. Dr. Fawcett was tall and composed, not at all like Broderick Crawford, and he spent most of the time on academic details ...

Travels. Copyright © by Michael Crichton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Travels 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book fascinated me. I've read most of Crichton's fiction, and I've been particularly interested in the way his characterizations of men and women have changed over time. Now I understand the background for those changes in his work, after reading this chronicle of decades of this author's personal development. 'New Age' experiences do nothing for me, but I nevertheless found it interesting to read about Crichton's perception of such experiences - and, especially, about his need to have them. The medical school chapters and the straight travel chapters engaged me best, though, because I could relate to them in a way I couldn't hope to relate to his accounts of channeling, exorcism, and so on. Worth reading for Crichton fans, although I'm not sure how much interest this book might hold for someone unfamiliar with his fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating collection of vignettes, and give entertaining and surprising insights into what turned Michael Crichton into the Michael Crichton we thought we knew. Very fast read, and with mostly short and self-contained essays is perfect to keep on hand for whenever you find yourself with a few free minutes.
818Ray More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book quite a bit. Makes me wish I had more opportunities to hit the road more often. Planning a month-long trip in the Fall and this book came recommended from a friend. I gladly pass along that recommendation.
jkphoenix1 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the first part of the book - his experiences in med school and his initial travels - not only for the places he visited, but for the insights into himself and people he met along the way. The end of the book moved far from being a travel book - it became a how-to for meditation and "new age" experiences. I found the change in focus unexpected and disappointing.
basiaaa More than 1 year ago
Maybe because I love to travel, mabye because I love scuba diving, maybe because I love trying wacky new things - who knows - I do know that I love this book. Each chapter is an amusing tale of some kind of an experience in Crichton's life, and I was totally engaged by it.
Kahlessa More than 1 year ago
In this book, Crichton recounts his experiences and examines the insights he gained into life as a result. He tells about attending Harvard Medical School, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, and directing Sean Connery in a movie, among many other things. Even people who don't care for his fiction can get something from this book. Michael Crichton lead a fascinating life that was over much too soon.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A must read for any Crighton fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Since reading this, my boyfriend and I are already planning trips around the world just based on his descriptions and testimony. I am buying this book for a few relatives for Christmas. I thought it was wonderful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I've ever read. I feel lucky to have come across it. After reading books upon books yet never feeling satisfied once it was over, I have found a book I enjoyed to the very last word, and beyond that. Michael Crichton, if nothing else, highlights the importance of knowledge gained through personal experience. You may think you know yourself, but there's always more to learn. More than you ever dreamed of.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been reading Chrichton for quite some time now, but none of his books were considered mandatory reading at UCLA, until now. Travels was and still is mandatory reading under most of the psychology and metaphysics classes at UCLA, perhaps there is a lot more to the book and the Author than Jack (Terrible Review Above) so believes. I'd highly recomend this book to anyone who wants to discover either themselves, or a higher level of intellect. During my studies at UCLA, I was somewhat motivated by this book. I now work for the Warm Springs Psychology Ward, and I've witnessed some extrodinary events relating to 'parapsychology', much like the ones that Chrichton experiences in his book 'Travels'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was supremely dismayed by this book where crichton, whom I assumed to be an intelligent and logical person due to his scientifically based stories turns out to be a moron who is totally taken by sham gurus and psuedoscience and tricketsters. Crichton claims to talk to cactuses, and see auras and thinks people can bend spoons with their minds. These are all things that con artists claim to do, but that all have failed to demonstrate when carefully observed. None for example have managed to claim the $1million prize that the randi foundation offers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being an exchange student in Japan, I can relate to a lot of the experiences in this book. Crichton always talks about discovering himself on all the trips he takes, but in the end it gets a little to odd for me. The actual travels part, and the med school part are cool, but near the end he gets into some crazy stuff, that in my opinion wasn`t totally worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a little skeptical about this book before I read it, but it turned out to be very entertaining, thought provoking, and satisfying. Every Crichton fan should probably read it just to get the inside scoop on the man himself, perhaps to see what has driven him to write so many fascinating books, and also to see what fuels some of his philosophy that comes through in his writing. 'Travels' certainly isn't all about philosophy, as much of it consists of some very entertaining anecdotes, though there's a philosophical vein that runs through it. It's not preachy, though Crichton seems to be trying to stimulate thinking in the reader. I found myself wishing at times that there wasn't a metaphysical bent to this book, though in the end I suppose it's for the better. Overall, a very engaging read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was thoroughly enjoying the read, until the last chapters got bogged down by spoonbenders and things that were too far 'out there' for me, so I just lightly glanced through the last four or five chapters and seeing that the book only dealt with that stuff, tossed it into the trash can. A suitable expression of my opinion, I thought. I do enjoy his other books; however.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Travels was an interesting autobiography. Crichton is an excellent writer and the stories within the book are entertaining and thought provoking. Not as good as some of his fiction novels, but a very good story never the less.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This shows some great insight into the interworkings of Michael's mind. It starts with his days as a medical student to his life experiences around the world. It is interesting to see how these experiences reflect on his works (ER, jurassic park, etc.) I highly recommend it.