Reviewer Lois C. Henderson: Lois is a freelance academic editor and back-of-book indexer, who spends most of her free time compiling word search puzzles for tourism and educative purposes. Her puzzles are available HERE and HERE Her Twitter account (@LoisCHenderson) mainly focusses on the toponymy of British place names. Please feel welcome to contact her with any feedback at LoisCourtenayHenderson@gmail.com.
Author: Stoever, William A.
Author: Stoever, William A.
Hitchhiking is not the ideal means of transport for many, but when you are young and intrepid, it is a way of gaining self-confidence, as long as you approach it sensibly and clearheadedly. As Stoever points out, “most people couldn’t adjust to the uncertainties and discomforts I experienced. I’m tremendously glad to have done the things I did, but they wouldn’t be right for most people.”
What Stoever did was to travel through 86 countries by the time that he was thirty, and, since then, to have visited 21 more. During his 20’s, he got around mainly by hitchhiking, on a strictly limited budget, staying at some of the cheapest accommodation available. In the two volumes of Hitchhike the World, Stoever relates how, in order to master “the excitement of going new places, seeing new things, having new experiences” he took to the road, first in the U.S., and then later in Mexico, Europe, and Africa (descibed in Book I), followed by in the Middle East and Asia (described in Book II). On the way, he came to learn a great deal about himself, about his fellow travelers (including many an apostolic Bible-thumping missionary, as well as some fairly risque mavericks), and about the places through which he traveled. This he regales his readers with at some length, recounting verbatim many of the conversations that he had with those who gave him lifts, as well as with those he met at the numerous stopovers where he stayed.
In addition to the multiple instances of dialogue, with some pleasant, and some not so pleasant, people whom he met along the way, he conveys a great deal of advice to youngsters on how to handle different situations that they might encounter if they decide to make use of this form of transportation. The topics covered most notably include toilets, dangers, photography (the only part of Book I that contains several photos is that on East Africa, although Stoever does provide rudimentary maps, on which all his journeys described are traced), meals, prices, and weak currencies and black markets, among many others.
Half reminiscence, half guidebook, Hitchhike the World makes a truly worthwhile read, whether you are interested in recalling similar experiences that you might have had in your own youth, or whether you are still young and adventurous in both mind and body, and wish to embark on such exploits yourself. Even though Stoever’s travels mainly occurred in the 1960’s, he has included many asides updating the details that he provides with salient information concerning the modern-day situation in the countries that he describes, so the work is still relevant today.