Roads Less Traveled: Dispatches From the Ends of the Earth

Published By: Syren Book Company

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Travel

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Reviewed by Connie Anderson

Nominated for a prestigious Minnesota Book Award, 2006

"A tourist goes away but a travel writer comes back and tells others about the trip."

For 30 years (1978 to 2004) as travel writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune (where these columns first appeared), Catherine Watson takes us traveling. If traveling to you is only things you see, then you will find this book "too soft." Watson takes us to visit the people and each area's oddities (that's a good thing) or uniqueness.

The chapters are each a column titled and dated so you get a historical reference as well. This is the perfect book if you have only small bursts of reading time.

The cover is of the magnificent Taj Mahal in India. The building is captured in her wonderful descriptions of sites and sounds there. Now I know the history: Taj was the beloved and adored wife of the Shah, and at her untimely death, he had the Taj Mahal built across the river from the palace so he could look at it every day.

With Watson we travel the world to these places and dozens more:

-- Visiting Vietnam and its people in 1996, 20 years after the "American war," as they call it, ended there. She saw abandoned American military trucks now fully engaged in their commerce.

-- Getting a cleansing/cure/healing in Sonora, Mexico.

-- Renting a villa in Acapulco.

-- Crossing into East Germany in 1995 where the second language for most adults is Russian (not the English of West Germans). Here she writes about the spectacular glass-blown Christmas ornaments and the families who've made them for generations.

-- Polar bears in Churchill, Canada, where she gets up close and personal with nature.

In 1996 she even wrote about Minnesota, her and my home state. She was the tour guide for a visiting journalist from Holland to whom Minnesota was America as she had not visited any other city.

Watson has seen and done things I've always wanted to--and things I'd never be brave enough to attempt--and everything in between.

Armchair Interviews says: Travelers (those who go and those who dream of going) will love Roads Less Traveled: Dispatches From the Ends of the Earth. The book is really more about the people who happen to live in destinations admired by tourists.

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