The founders of the popular Lonely Planet travel guides deliver a lively autobiography that is as interesting, informative and amusing as their series itself. After meeting cute in 1970 on Belfast-native Maureen’s first week in London, the couple went off on a planned one-year trip through the Far East that ended up with them stranded penniless in Australia, where they decided to publish a short travel guide on Asia that became the basis of their now multinational company. This look back at their almost 40-year career divides neatly into thirds, with the first energetically covering their various travels while they get their business off the ground, such as “incidents in Turkey that began ambiguously and ended with gratuitous acts of kindness”; the second frankly detailing why their early and “often fairly shoddy productions” became popular because they “were still better than anything else around”; and the third refreshingly discussing their current business ventures. Their chapter “All About Guidebooks” serves as an excellent short look at the history and the current state of the travel book market, and they convincingly argue that guidebooks such as theirs have not wrecked once-mysterious locations.
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