The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes is a book written by Carl Hoffman. The book follows Hoffman’s journey around the world, travelling in the most dangerous ways possible. He travels by taxis, commuter trains, and airplanes, and discovers the generosity of strangers from all walks of life.
The book is more than just an adventure story; it is an insightful look at the world as it is, full of hundreds of millions of people who are mostly poor and on the move. Hoffman recounts his feelings at each moment, and the book also contains interesting information and good descriptions. However, some readers may find the book to be repetitive and contrived.
Themes of the book include adventure, discovery, and the generosity of strangers. It also highlights the plight of the poor and the rapidly urbanizing world. The book is a funny, harrowing, and insightful look at the world, and readers can take away useful lessons from it.
What I Liked
I appreciate anytime someone goes and tries something that most people will simply never experience. A good vicarious experience is a reason for reading travel books. I also appreciate books that attempt to recreate – in at least a small way – how people live in a given place. And travel is a core part of people’s everyday lives – even if it’s a route that a typical tourist would never check out.
What I Did Not Like
The book is a bit repetitive. It also lacks a lot of historical, cultural, and historical context that would give useful background to a lot of the “lunatic express” options that he rides (I’d also think it would be a bit kinder and more understanding toward people & countries just trying to get by).