On The Plain of Snakes by Paul Theroux

On the Plain of Snakes

On The Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey is a travel memoir by renowned travel writer Paul Theroux. In this book, Theroux takes a car trip along the border and the length of Mexico from the frontier to Chiapas.

He encounters poverty and violence, kindness and hospitality, pride and melancholy on his journey. The author begins his Mexican journey in a border town between Mexico and the United States.

Theroux’s impeccable research and superb descriptive prose make “On the Plain of Snakes” a trip worth taking. He gathers the highlights of this journey through Mexico in his book. Each border crosser has a story to tell, and these stories have become lost in the current immigration enforcement debate that’s as embattled and polarizing as the wall that separates the two countries.

Thus, tired of hearing “nothing but ignorant opinion about Mexicans, from the highest office in America to the common ruck of barflies and xenophobes,” Theroux buys a used Buick and takes a road trip from the international border to the southern state of Chiapas.

The main themes of the book are travel, culture, politics, and immigration. The book provides an insightful and timely look at what’s going on inside Mexico.

It offers a textured portrait of the country and its people, and Theroux does not hesitate to articulate his point of view on a number of topics as he unapologetically takes into consideration context, anecdotal evidence, and his on-the-road experiences to arrive at his prescription for improving the Mexican situation.

What I Liked

I will read anything by Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson. They are both crochety old guys. But Theroux especially is master of observation, talking to people, and traveling in a way to truly understand a region and the people who live there.

What I Did Not Like

Nothing – excellent read. It’s still on my shelf to read again.

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