World Hum’s Top-30 travel books: Road Fever


Over at World Hum, the (somewhat subjective) countdown of the top-30 travel books of all time continues. My latest contributions to the roundup include Tony Horwitz’s Baghdad Without a Map (#26), and Tim Cahill‘s Road Fever (#21).

Of Road Fever, I write:

A founding editor of Outside magazine, Cahill has been credited with revitalizing adventure writing—a genre that had previously been confined to breathless, semi-fictional tales of danger in the pages of low-culture men’s magazines. The tongue-in-cheek titles of Cahill’s early essay collections—“Jaguars Ripped My Flesh”; “A Wolverine is Eating My Leg”; “Pecked to Death by Ducks”—are a nod to his pulpy precursors, but his writing is the opposite of pulp: informed, nuanced, self-deprecating, and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.

Road Fever, Cahill’s only book-length travel narrative, chronicles a 15,000-mile dash to set a world record by driving overland across the Americas in less than 24 days. In many ways, it’s an anti-adventure book, since a large portion of the tale documents the process of making plans and procuring corporate sponsorship—but this says a lot about the competitive, publicity-driven, and weirdly postmodern state of post-Exploration Age adventure. The author’s partner in the journey is professional endurance driver Gary Sowerby, and together the duo deal with fatigue, dangerous roads, stubborn bureaucrats—and an overabundance of sponsor-supplied pudding—as they race north into the pages of the “Guinness Book of World Records.” As the miles speed by, Cahill’s exuberant reporting and eye for the absurd make for an amusing and exhilarating ride.

An index of the Top 30 travel books (updated daily) can be found here.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | May 15, 2006
Category: Travel News, Travel Writing

2 Responses to “World Hum’s Top-30 travel books: Road Fever”

  1. justin Says:

    Road Fever has always been one of my personal favorite travel books of all time! Perfect mixture of humor and annoyance shared with traveling along side a stranger for two weeks in the cab of a truck. I can only imagine.

    My favorite memory from the book is the instant coffee made with sparkling bottled water. They were too tired to care. Classic.

  2. ann Says:

    where did you grow up?