holidaysinhellP. J. O’Rourke’s classic, best-selling guided tour of the world’s most desolate, dangerous, and desperate places. “Tired of making bad jokes” and believing that “the world outside seemed a much worse joke than anything I could conjure,” P. J. O’Rourke traversed the globe on a fun-finding mission, investigating the way of life in the most desperate places on the planet, including Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast. The result is Holidays in Hell–a full-tilt, no-holds-barred romp through politics, culture, and ideology. P.J.’s adventures include storming student protesters’ barricades with riot police in South Korea, interviewing Communist insurrectionists in the Philippines, and going undercover dressed in Arab garb in the Gaza Strip. He also takes a look at America’s homegrown horrors as he braves the media frenzy surrounding the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Washington D.C., uncovers the mortifying banality behind the white-bread kitsch of Jerry Falwell’s Heritage USA, and survives the stultifying boredom of Harvard’s 350th anniversary celebration. Packed with P.J.’s classic riffs on everything from Polish nightlife under communism to Third World driving tips, Holidays in Hell is one of the best-loved books by one of today’s most celebrated humorists. (Taken from Barnes & Noble Website)

My Review:

P.J.O’Rourke I must say is too much. I have never read any journalist so funny….When I first heard of the book before reading it (five years back), I wondered what it would be like to travel to places like Lebanon, El Salvador, Palestine and Phillippines and more , in times of  distubance within the countries……after reading the book it seemed he has done it for me or us. Reading this book really gave me the feeling of having been to these countries!!!

It’s a miracle P. J. survives even just the opening chapter, a casual ramble across Lebanon during their civil war. His sense of humor through all this , full of flippant remarks and strange juxtapositions, yet on a deeper level his observations are also deadly serious…. here is an example from the book:

On Sight-Seeing in Lebanon:

“Important archaeological work has been done in Lebanon, exposing six millennia of human misbehavior. The country has been overrun in turn by Canaanites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Arabs again, Turks, French, more Arabs, Israelis and occasional U.S. Marines. Perhaps by means of the past one can begin to comprehend the present. Or learn which way to run from the future.”

The book might be a bit dated today as this stories are from mid 1980s..but it is still quiet funny.He establishes his mantra here, basically that if you really want to know whats going on in a country you should never interview its politicians who will never tell you the straight story. Reading this book may explain for you a lot about why the third world is at it is, but it’s also a fun read and a good adventure at the same time.

I would recommend it if you need something light to read yet some perspective of some of the world’s problems today,  go for it…….

This book review is part of my “Old Book Review” as well as “2009 Read & Review Challenge”.