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Lonely Planet(s)

My brother sent me this link this morning. Disappointing, but, I suppose, not surprising. Thing is, I’ve been a fan of the Lonely Planet guides for years now, ever since I realized that the chances of me actually getting down to the Ice while researching the first Whiteout were pretty much nil. They had the only guidebook on Antarctica that I ever found.

Ever since then, I’ve relied on their titles pretty heavily to provide broad secondary research for the many travels of Atticus, Chace, and others.

Another reminder of the need to practice due-diligence, I suppose. Gonna have to read this guy’s book, I think….

Edited to add: Accusations refuted, though I’d think that’s to be expected.

7 Responses to Lonely Planet(s)

  1. dewline


    Your post triggered the memory of someone having written a book advising distrust of travel guides in general and recently appearing on one of CBC Radio One’s talk shows to push that book. I wish I could remember which show it was on, either Sounds Like Canada or Q. If I recall correctly, the title’s Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t give an opinion of the quality or truthfulness of the author. I would hope that this isn’t part of an ongoing problem.

  2. jennawaterford

    I always use Lonely Planet guides, and they never steered me wrong — but I’ve never gone anywhere exotic, so I doubt the books I’ve purchased had the same issues.

    I love their detail and specificity and great maps. I hope this scandal will improve internal practices at the company.

  3. supergodginrai

    Odd and interesting, something I’ll have to read.
    But the first part of the story (even dealt drugs) should NOT be blamed on the Lonely Planet folks, there are OTHER ways to make money if you’re paid poorly.

  4. steverolston

    That guy’s name is Chuck Thompson. I caught an interview with him on The Hour podcast.

  5. dewline

    Steve, thanks much for the memory refresher!

    I have to admit that the ground Thompson covered in the radio interview has left me more than a tad concerned. Granted that I haven’t been burned by such things – to the best I can remember – so far as either a writer or artist doing the research or as a traveller…but like Greg said, we have to be careful.

  6. fordmadoxfraud

    Yeah, I use them pretty much exclusively (what else is there, Fodors? Frommers? What am I, an oil tycoon?) and have always been amazed how spot-on they are about stuff like ticket prices for trains between obscure rural towns in Sicily, so I take this dude’s claims with a grain of salt. If anything, this is a testament to how, with information technology covering the globe, you maybe don’t have to travel to the country to write a useful guidebook for travelers. It helps, sure, but is clearly no longer a minimum requirement.

  7. snoristed

    User beware

    I lived for years in Norway and Finland and found the Culture Shock Norway book to be ludicrously bad and unreliable. And bizarre. Sort of a guide for people moving from China to Norway although marketed in English to Americans… Go figure. The Culture Shock Finland book, however, was great. The Lonely Planet guides for the two countries were so-so. I recall the Insight Guides being the best…

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