Over twenty years ago, P.J. O’Rourke published Holidays in Hell , the classic travelogue that found him searching for excitement in places like Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast. In Holidays in Heck , the man dubbed “the funniest writer in America” by Time and The Wall Street Journal steps into the new and slightly less dangerous territory of the family vacation.
The O’Rourke clan treks to places as close to home as Disneyland and Washington, D.C., and as far-flung as China, all while P.J. attempts to dissuade his wife from shopping and keep his children entertained. His travels often leave him wishing he were under artillery fire again. At one point, the family takes a ski tripto Ohio. Here, he warns his daughter not to ski out of bounds, “because it’s completely flat.” Later, during their visit to the National Museum of American History, P.J. calls the building, “ugly in a way that’s best described as built in 1964.” And one of his solo adventures takes him on a horse trek across the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, where his route consists of cliff faces that leave him dangling very much off of his saddle.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Former War Correspondent Experiences Frightening Vacation Fun 1
1 Republicans Evolving: The Galapagos Elands, April 2003 7
2 Monumental Generations: The National World War FL Memorial, Washington, D.C. June 2004 17
3 Round on the Ends and "Hi!" in the Middle: Ohio Skiing, February 2005 23
4 Riding to the Hounds versus Going to the Dogs: Britain after the Hunting Ban, March 2005 35
5 My EU Vacation: Reading the European Constitution on a French Beach, Guadeloupe, May 2005 53
6 On First Looking into the Airbus A380: Toulouse, June 2005 59
7 If You Think Modern Life Is Awful, You Haven't Seen Modern Art: Venice Biennale, July 2005 75
8 My Wife's Got a Gun: Brays Eland Plantation, South Carolina, February 2006 85
9 A Freedom Ride through China: Spring 2006 95
10 Side Trip Up the Yangtze: June 2006 127
11 A Horse of a Different Color: Kyrgyzstan, July 2006 141
12 Sweet-and-Sour Children and Twice-Fried Parents to Go: Hong Kong, December 2007 159
13 The Big Stick, or Why I Voted for John McCain: USS Theodore Roosevelt, April 2008 177
14 White Man Speak with Forked Tongue: The Field Museum, Chicago, May 2008 187
15 The Decline and Fall of Tomorrow: Disneyland, June 2008 199
16 A Journey to … Let's Not Go There: Summer 2008 213
17 The Seventy-Two-Hour Afghan Expert: Kabul, July 2010 227
18 Capital Gains: Washington, D. C, August 2010 253
19 Home Unalone: New Hampshire, March 2011 263
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sometimes it seems as if I¿ve been reading political humorist P.J. O¿Rourke forever, so when I spotted Holidays in Heck in the ¿new books¿ section of my local library a few days ago I grabbed it. This one bills itself as ¿the follow-up to the classic Holidays in Hell¿ -a 1989 book I thoroughly enjoyed - the premise being that O¿Rourke, this time around, will tell us about some of his family vacations in place of describing the hellhole war zone days of his prior life. (O¿Rourke swore off war zones after the Iraq war.)Holidays in Heck is written pretty much in the expected P.J. O¿Rourke style, but his observations do not seem to have quite the bite of his earlier work (even though the book is largely rewritten from articles published as early as 2003 in magazines such as Forbes, The Weekly Standard, and World Affairs). Perhaps this is because of the nature of the subject matter, or because O¿Rourke places less emphasis on politics this time than he usually does, but this one reads as a tamer version of his earlier writing style.The book, for some reason, chooses to open with what I found to be its weakest chapter, one called ¿Republicans Evolving¿ in which O¿Rourke describes a 2003 trip taken to the Galapagos Islands with some of his Republican friends. Largely one-joke repeated too many times to be funny ( as his Republican friends¿ first concern always seems to be the edibility of every creature they observe on the islands), this chapter is thankfully not representative of those that follow. Subsequent chapters find O¿Rourke, sometimes with his entire family in tow, visiting places such as the National World War II monument in Washington D.C., Brays Island Plantation in South Carolina, China, the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong, Disneyland, or Afghanistan. Along the way, he even manages to go skiing in Ohio (who knew?), riding to the hounds in England, and convinces his family to vacation at home one year.Holidays in Heck is an interesting travelogue, and much of what O¿Rourke had to say as he passed through various layers of ¿heck¿ made me smile. Surprisingly, I began to look forward to the observations of O¿Rourke¿s two little girls, ¿Muffin¿ and her younger sister ¿Poppet,¿ as their father wryly reported on their innocent world view. Seeing a bit of the world through the fresh eyes of children is never a bad thing.Rated at: 3.0
I enjoy O'Rourke's writing; he has a much better sense of humor and self-deprecation than other well-known "conservatives."
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