Just when it seemed certain that
travel writers had exhausted the pantheon of destinations, Perrottet
offers a fresh perspectiveby taking the route most traveled.
From Rome to Naples to Sparta to Cairo, Perrottet... presents a
delightful reminder of how little men and women of leisure have
changed. As he tells it, first-century tourist traps rise from
the page in scenes so familiar and vibrant that it becomes difficult
to discern whether the past is present, or the present, past.
That temporal illusion is the book's real triumph.
- Publisher's Weekly
"'Scusiwhere are the penises?' asks Tony Perrottet's
pregnant girlfriend Lesley, at the start of the Grand Tour-style romp
through the great sites of the ancient world. (The penises in
question, in case you're wondering, are wall paintings preserved in
the prostitute quarters of Pompeii). Usually found swashbuckling
in wilder places like Pago Pago, Aussie traveler Perrottet
accommodates Lesley's delicate condition by joining the tourist
hordes passing through Greece, Turkey and Egypt. But he
discovers that the trip is not for the faint-hearted, and that
tourism hasn't changed much over the years. The Romans
"complained about hard mattresses and bad service... and bought
cheesy souvenirs wherever they went." Retracing the
ancients' strangely familiar steps, Perrottet finds something truly
rare: a fresh, funny take on this beaten path.
- Outside magazine
A wonderful, offbeat, illuminating book written by a wonderful,
offbeat, illuminating author, Route 66 AD chronicles the original road
trip, the ur-journey that sprung a Pandora's box of Kerouacs and
cross-country station wagons. A great read!
- Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert
An appealing mix of the zany and
the arcane, juggling an energetic account of ancient Roman travel
habits with a witty record of his own modern journey... (Perrottet's)
insistence on seeing what the ancients saw, no matter the filth, decay
and craven commercialism obscuring most ancient sites, becomes a
terrific running gag. One scuba impresario thinks he's crazy to
want to attempt a dive in the Bay of Naples in the rain, but Perrottet
won't be deterred, and when he finally sees, underneath a layer of
''verdant slime,'' the remnants of the Roman resort of Baiae, he makes
you understand his excitement: ''Up on the surface, spitting out a
laboratory full of bacteria, I felt likeat last!I'd beheld the
Roman past directly."
- New York Times Book Review
A sparkling adventure... Perrottet is an energetic joker and a wry
- Sunday Times (London)
Australian travel-writer Perrottet makes the most of an inspired
notion: to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Romans, who once
visited with enthusiasm and wonder the far reaches of their extensive
is an amiable and informed tour guide. He knows the significance
of what he sees, from Pompeii to Troy to Cairo, and he recognizes as
well the humor and irony... A rollicking Roman holiday.
- Kirkus Reviews
Brilliantly researched and beautifully written...
- Rocky Mountain News
Perrottet has not only appeased the Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (whose
mummified flesh he touched in Room 354 of the Cairo Museum of
Antiquities), he has produced a charming popular history of ancient
Roman sightseeing, an activity they loved as much as we do. A
grand tour in ancient times was no Butterfield & Robinson trip,
and neither is his. He sleeps in a string of dives and takes the
cheapest, most unreliable forms of transportation short
of the iron-wheeled carts of antiquity. But Perrottet presses on
and makes it home safe and unsmitten by ill-tempered gods.
- Forbes FYI
Who would've believed that today's camera-toting, fannypacked hordes
could be blamed on the ancient Romans? Route 66 AD regales the
reader on every page with wonderfully quirky insights about the
world's earliest tourists. Perrottet succeeds where most failnamely, in writing about travel in a way that's witty, smart and
- Jason Wilson, series
editor of The Best American Travel Writing
To prove that little has changed over the centuries, Perrottet...
follows the map drawn by Roman war hero Macus Agrippa, traveling along
the same routes used by Horace and Pliny. The result is a fascinating
and often humorous look at a world long gone. Perrottet's
writing sparkles with descriptions of modern and ancient
- Library Journal
Roll over, Homer! Here's the ancient world as we've never seen
it before: through the eyes of the original Roman sightseers, as
related by a beseiged travel writer. Learned, hilarious,
hair-raisingand with the best last
line since Joyce's Ulysses.
- John Colapinto, contributing editor Rolling Stone
A whimsical trek through
classical history... This book belongs in the genre of joyful
peregrination. Perrottet dwells untiringly on the bacchanalian
side of Roman life, which may bar the book from many a school library.
It's a splendid trip, with two gutsy companions, and by the end, the
reader may need a shower as much as they do.
- Washington Post Book World
Perrottet is a nearly unflappable traveler, and terrifically funny
writer; this history-cum-travelogue is as enjoyable as it is
informative, and twice as quirky."
- Boston Globe
Getting out those summer books?
Let me recommend Route 66 AD. Like most good travel books,
Perrottet's jaunty excursion makes one alternately eager to get on the
road and happy to stay at home, relieved that someone else has gone
forth in the heat of the day and done the journey. His
boisterous prose style reminds me somewhat of the style of his fellow
Australian, Robert Hughes...
- New York Press
Wunderbar! A deliciously
juicy, and at the same wonderfully academic,
- Der Spiegel (Germany)
"TONY DOES TROY: Prodigious research... a compendium of vivid
quotation from ancient authors, some marvellously obscure.
Debating the value of travel with a monk in the Peloponnese, Perrottet
approvingly quotes St Augustine: 'The world is a book. He who
stays at home reads only one page.' He's attempting to read the
past, not in order to lament vanished civilizations, but to celebrate
'archaeology in reverse': the ways in which 'the past is deftly
salvaging the ruins of the present.'"
- The Guardian (London)
"Rings wonderfully true. Perrottet knows a lot about the
Roman world, and has rightly seen that the modern romantic desire for
deserted ruins is quite at odds with the seedy hustle and bustle that
would have characterized the most famous monuments of the ancient
- Times Literary Supplement (London)