Rick Steves (Nation Books)

I’m sure Rick Steves is very charming in person. The blurb even reveals his “charming, winning persona” has made the author and TV presenter America’s favourite travel guide.

The problem is, coming new to him through this book, it doesn’t come across.

As he recounts tale after tale in order to show the reader how travel can broaden the mind (not really a new idea, is it?) he comes across as the kind of ‘been everywhere’ traveller who hogs dinner table chat and starts every sentence with “In Africa …”

Yes, Travel As A Political Act is well-researched, the history accessible, and the layout and black and white photos endearing, but sentences like “I’m not condemning cruise vacations. I’m simply saying I don’t consider that activity ‘travel’,” made this reviewer want to lock herself in a lower deck cabin for a six-month round-the-world cruise just to spite him.

Maybe his usual audience needs to be told how to travel, but for most of us he’s preaching to the converted, in a baby voice.