1st Edition

Postmarks from a Political Traveler

ISBN 9781612057613
Published April 30, 2015 by Routledge
244 Pages

USD $42.95

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Book Description

As spring and summer vacations beckon, this book invites and incites a whole new approach to travel. "Postmarks from a Political Traveler" is a series of travel recollections confronting the troubling topics of roots and racism, polar bears and climate change, anti-Americanism, and the war in Afghanistan. The book opens with the story of the author s experience growing up in the Jim Crow South, traveling in apartheid South Africa, and living in the post-apartheid South Africa of 2009 and 2010. It explores the not-so-dissimilar roots and racism of the United States and South Africa, as well as the cross-fertilization of ideas between the two countries. The next installment chronicles two trips to Churchill, Manitoba, where the planet s largest population of polar bears congregate each October. It recounts the dramatic changes that have occurred in both the human and the polar bear communities in just the last decade and shows how the bears have become an Arctic version of the proverbial canary in the coalmine. Then the book shifts to the author s journey back to the United States on a German freighter with a rabidly anti-American captain. Woven into this account of life aboard a long haul ship are threads of the author s travels and anti-American encounters over a decade of living in Africa and Asia. The book concludes with reflections on trips to Afghanistan in 2004 and in 2012, describing the effects of war and conflict zone politics on women, education, refugees, and aid workers. What ties these episodes together is the author s commitment to social justice and to changing the world through travel and writing that is, affirming travel as a political act."


“The trick about Phil Karber’s travel writing is the trick about Paul Theroux’s travel writing. Or the writing of Chatwin, Bryson, or Krakauer. The trick is there is no trick. You go, you look, you push, you study, you talk, you listen. You get arrested, you get dirty, you get lost, you get drunk. In a word, it’s exploration. And Karber, at his core, is an explorer, looking close, pushing hard, and writing it down.”
—Mark McDonald, foreign correspondent, International Herald Tribune

“The author is owed a debt of gratitude for bringing forth the experiences recounted here. His revelations help us understand that indeed strides have been made in racial understanding and yet we have a ways to go.”
—Henry W. Foster Jr., MD, Professor Emeritus of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University, and former Clinton nominee, US Surgeon General

“Taken a decade apart, Phil Karber’s two trips to Churchill highlight the startling effects of global warming on the Polar Bear Capital of the World. Fewer polar bears, less ice, less wildlife in general—his keen observations record the need for action before it is too late.”
—Krista Wright, Executive Director, Polar Bears International

“From Arkansas to Vietnam, from American racism in the southern US to American war-making in southeast Asia, Phil shares his fascinating journey through continents, cultures, and conversations, never straying far from an underlying quest for understanding and genuine peace that most of us seek. Phil’s Vietnam connections—with the US military during wartime, and decades later during peacetime—shape his skepticism about the likelihood of workable solutions from the same worn policy formulas. Yet there is some hope in the stories of ordinary people, their resilience, and their wisdom. We’re fortunate that he’s invited us to share the journey.”
—Chuck Searcy, Vice President, Veterans for Peace Chapter 160 (Hoa Binh)