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Hilarious and heartbreaking
on June 9, 2004
This is a dazzlingly brilliant collection of articles written about some of the world's worst trouble spots. Nobody else writes like O'Rourke, managing to vividly conjure up the awfulness of the places he visits, yet at the same time managing to make you laugh as well. The tone of the articles ranges from the horrific 'Christmas in El Salvador', to the purely comic 'Weekend Getaway: Heritage USA' which describes a bizarre visit to a Biblical theme park. He describes how his girlfriend attempts to go shopping in the park and returns with "a dazed, perplexed expression, like a starved Ethiopian given a piece of wax fruit". I know the feeling, Disneyland Paris had exactly the same effect on me. In 'Mexican Border Idyll' he asks the question "What makes a Mexico a Mexico? What makes a United States a United States? And what the hell are we supposed to do about it?" 'The Euro-Weenies'is a bit painful to read if you are one, but funny all the same and 'In Whitest Africa' written a few years before the ending of apartheid, is absolutely fascinating. 'The piece of Ireland that passeth all Understanding' is perhaps the best article of all, funny and tragic by turns, so much better in every way than the trite, banal piece Michael Moore wrote about Ireland in 'Dude, where's my country?'In the introduction to this superb book O'Rourke ponts out that military intervention is never going to stop trouble because "It will always be more fun to carry a gun around in the hills and sleep with ideology-addled college girls than to spend life behind a water buffalo or rotting in a slum". Who else could have written that, O'Rourke is incomparable.