Authors: P. J. O'Rourke
heer amateurism is a reporter's only excuse for traveling without an assignment to do so. Therefore, the pieces in this book were assigned. Many of these assignations came from
, which isâand I mean this in the best wayâthe monkey business supplement to
, America's preeminent business magazine.
) was founded by my excellent friend Christopher Buckley who, in a flash of inspiration, realized that the people who make money reading
might occasionally want to blow some. Blowing money is what I do.
My thanks to Christopher and a plug in recompense. He is the first person since Evelyn Waugh to master the agonizingly difficult art of the comic novel. Buy all his books. And
my thanks to Patrick Cooke and Richard Nalley who brilliantly followed Christopher's brilliance as editors of
and to their brilliant boss Bob Forbes, my summer neighbor in New Hampshire's Beige Mountains. Together these gentlemen underwrote my journeys to the Galapagos Islands, the Yangtze, Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong, Brays Island Plantation, and even my rare opportunity, described in
, to stay home.
My wife, Tina, and I were invited to go on the Galapagos excursion by our extraordinary Texas friends Lee and Ramona Bass. But, between invitation and embarkation, Tina turned up pregnant with Buster (whose first appearance in print is recorded in
). Doctors forbade Tina from messing around in boats. So I took along my Godson Nick McDonell.
Nick, a New York City boy, was then a freshman at Harvard. This was his first exposure to Republicans en mass, particularly Texas Republicans, and, more particularly, the beautiful teenage daughters of Texas Republicans, who accompanied us on the cruise. Nick is a handsome and engaging young man, and the girls were fascinated by his exotic liberalism. One evening, on my way to the bar, I saw the entire contingent of adolescent Texan females gathered around a table with my Godson. I overheard a mellifluous voice with sugared southern accent say, “Why,
, you-all just don't
My travels through mainland China and my sojourn with my family in Hong Kong would not have been possible without our peerless friends Dave and Celia Garcia. I've been imposing on their hospitality in the Orient for twenty years. We've shared trips with them to Italy, Spain, and Thailand. And Dave has been a boon companionâcoming along for the fun of itâon my reporting trips to Israel, the West Bank, and
Egypt. Once, while we were walking back to the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem late at night, a couple of kids tried to heave a Molotov cocktail at us. It fell pathetically short. Dave shouted, “You throw like girls. If you Palestinians want a country, you'd better learn to play baseball.”
Speaking of learning things, I owe myâvery tenuousâability to stay on a horse to the worthy Adrian Dangar. If it weren't for him I wouldn't have survived the horseback ride across the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Although, come to think of it, if it weren't for him I wouldn't have
on the horseback ride across the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. So thanks, Adrian, I guess. Anyway, Adrian's Wild and Exotic Ltd. tour companyâ
âis a splendid operation. He'll talk you into doing all sorts of things that are wild and exotic. But it's all perfectly safe. The last time Adrian led a horse trek across the Serengeti only one of the riders was attacked by a lion and hardly any of his horse was eaten. Adrian also took the author photo for this book, capturing with speed and skill a rare instant when I wasn't falling out of the saddle.
Still speaking of learning things, my wife owes her knowledge of how to shoot me on the fly to our estimable friends at Brays Island Plantation in South Carolina, Perry and Sally Harvey, and to the admirable Hugh and Gay Eaton who first introduced us to the Brays. It's the perfect place to retire, which I'll never get to do because my wife knows how to shoot me on the fly.
Another generous source of holidays has been
The Weekly Standard
. I've been a proud contributor since its inception in 1995âthough how proud its masters of political deep-thinkingâfounders Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, deputy editor Richard Starr, and literary editor Phil Terzianâare of that
I can't say.
is not the first venue that comes to mind for leisure and travel writing. But now and then conservative virtue needs to take time off. Meanwhile the evils of leftism are notoriously far-flung.