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Road Fever - A Book Review

Reviewed by Don Moore

Cahill, Tim. ROAD FEVER. Random House. 1991. 277p.

Got a month's vacation? Have I got the trip for you! Follow in the footsteps of author Tim Cahill and companion Garry Sowerby and make a world record 15,000 mile drive on the Panamerican Highway from Tierra del Fuego to northern Alaska. It only takes twenty-three and a half days, leaving a few days for R&R once you get to Prudhoe Bay.

Admittedly, one doesn't embark on a trip like this quite so casually. Sowerby was contracted by General Motors in 1987 to make this trip as a publicity stunt in a brand new GMC Sierra. Cahill was along as a co-driver and independent journalist/author. Almost the first half of the book is taken up by reconnaisance - advance detail work in Latin America by Sowerby and Cahill, as they check into customs formalities in various countries and make contacts with officials, to ease their way across borders. While it is preliminary to the main story, this is the part of the book that gets into a little of the culture of the various countries. After all, once they got going on the main event there wasn't exactly a lot of time for sight-seeing! Although this is not Cahill's first trip to Latin America, he is more known for his travels in Asia and Africa and makes a few gaffs like confusing Juan Peron's two wives Evita and Isabel.

Finally, they start on the made dash from Ushuiaia, Argentina - the southernmost town in the world reachable by road. The trip itself is hilarious. They live mostly on cold instant coffee, beef jerky, and boxed milkshakes (a Canadian manufacturer donated a thousand). At the dozens of police checkpoints and border crossings along the way, they make friends with the authorities by handing out Canadian flag lapel pins and milkshakes. There are so many little stories and encounters in this book, it doesn't exactly have a plot. Rather, it's a series of events intertwined with concepts like being "roto" and having Zippy's disease. You have to read the book to find out! Although it does take a little time to get to the heart of the story, this is one of the most entertaining books I have read in a long time. You won't get as much Latin American cultural background out of this book, compared to a lot of others. But, it is one good read!


This website is maintained by Don Moore,
Association of North American Radio Clubs
DXer of the Year for 1995

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