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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?

I’ll be honest, I judged this book by its cover. The title caught my attention as I was thumbing through the stacks while on a day out with my nephews. And when I held a few different selections up to them to choose, they told me to get this one. In hindsight I wish I would’ve left them to their own book and chosen on my own.
Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? is a mildly interesting story of how Thomas Kohnstamm essentially became a guide book writer. He was disillusioned in his day job in New York City and wanted out of the race. An offer came along to write for Lonely Planet and, after much drama, he accepted and headed off to Brazil to write his book. This book is about that story.
Kohnstamm’s writing isn’t bad, which is why I suppose he’s continued doing several other guide books, newspaper articles and the like, but it’s what he writes about that I didn’t care for. He continually brags about his escapades using cocaine and ecstasy as though it’s something to be admired; nevermind the people that will be relying on the information he’ll write about in the guide book.
Of course I’m not so naive to think that the different writers for such books are clean cut individuals that only focus on the job at hand while they’re abroad. It takes a different kind to be a backpacker living in hostels in different countries. But to put it out there so openly that he made a lot of things up that he wrote in the book just turned me off.
Kohnstamm has my $13.95 though, so I can’t believe he particularly cares that I thought his story was rubish and that he’s a discredit to travel writers the world over. Anyone that now reads this book will think twice about buying any sort of guide book because of his actions. That very well may’ve been his intention in doing so as he places a note in the beginning of the book, but I still find it unacceptable.
Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? is a book that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone unless they care to read about a junkie’s trip through northeastern Brazil. In reality though, it’s just Kohnstamm’s sad and pathetic excuse for why he didn’t actually do the assignment he accepted. And I quite frankly don’t accept his excuse when thousands of people are relying on his information.

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