An Amateur’s Guide to the Planet

In 1985, Jeannette Belliveau found herself starting to cry on an obscenely overcrowded Chinese train ride — which did not bother the uncomplaining Chinese passengers.

Her awful train trip set in motion a broad inquiry, recounted in her book An Amateur’s Guide to the Planet, into why Americans are so little prepared for the realities of foreign countries.

With the guidance of more than 20 top scholars and foreign correspondents, Belliveau solved hundreds of mysteries that may confound travelers on culture, economics, politics, history, wildlife behavior, language and geography.

Read the accidental cultural geography hit aimed at thinking travelers!

Have you come back from a trip with questions about the world wonders you have seen, such as:

  • Why does China feel crowded?
  • Why did Babylonian-style pyramids erupt in the Maya jungle?
  • Why does Japan resemble Britain in more than 30 ways?
  • What makes Burma in some ways the nation most opposite the United States?
  • Why does Africa receive negative press but raves from travelers?

An Amateur’s Guide to the Planet provides answers to these and hundreds of other fascinating questions.
Jeannette Belliveau, a former Washington Post graphics editor, visited six continents over a decade. She observed a lion kill, fought terror on a Maya pyramid, nearly wrecked a yacht in Greece, swam with sharks, starting crying on a Chinese train, and suffered a leech bite in Borneo.
She tells of her adventures in witty and vivid style–but that’s not all. Jeannette also read 600 books and periodicals and consulted with more than 20 top scholars and foreign correspondents to find out:

  • Why are African languages spoken in Brazil and not the United States?
  • Why does Thailand provide “ultimate sailing?”
  • What lessons does Greece’s decline hold for Americans?
  • Why would the loss of Madagascar’s lemurs be especially tragic?
  • Why does Polynesian culture live on in Tahiti but not Hawaii?

See for yourself why An Amateur’s Guide to the Planet has been called “a gem,” “one of the most exciting books you’ll see” and “a new level in travel journalism”!