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Great Travel Books, A Vagabond Journey Around the World

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A Vagabond Journey Around the World
by Harry Franck

A Vagabond Journey Around the World is the classic, seminal work of Harry A. Franck, who was life long traveller and writer. Of his twenty or so books that describe his travels through nearly the entire planet, this is his first and, and in my opinion, best. The travels that make up A Vagabond Journey were undertaken when the author was young, adventurous, and not yet a professional writer. In this book, Franck describes rather than explains; show rather than tells. Simply put, he wrote this book from the hip, with the seeming intention of documenting his experiences and impressions of the world as he found it- and nothing more.

Harry A. Franck

Franck’s focus seemed to have been more on travelling the world than writing a book, which I feel is a necessary recipe for compiling a good travel book. Travel first, write second. This book is about adventure- pure and simple. It is about the simple human urge to GO!, to walk over the farthest hill. . . just to find that the only thing there is the journey over the next hill. In fact the journey that made up the book was started as a be.

From the Forward of Explanation of A Vagabond Journey Around the World:

Some years ago, while still an undergraduate, I chanced to be present at an informal gathering in which the conversation turned to confessions of respective ambitions.

“If I had a few thousands,” sighed a senior, “I’d make a trip around the world.”

“Modest ambition!” retorted a junior, “But you’d better file it away for future reference, till you have made the money.”

“With all due respect to bank accounts,” I observed, “I believe a man with a bit of energy and good health could start without money and make a journey around the globe.”

Laughter assailed the suggestion; yet as time rolled on I found myself often musing over that hastily conceived notion. Travel for pleasure has ever been considered a special privilege of the wealthy. That a man without ample funds should turn tourist seems to his fellow-beings an action little less reprehensible than an attempt to finance a corporation on worthless paper.

A rebellion against this traditional notion suggested a problem worthy of investigation. What would befall the man who set out to girdle the globe as the farmer’s boy sets out to seek his fortune in a neighboring city; on alert for every opportunity, yet scornful of the fact that every foot of the way has not been paved for him?

Were I permitted an avocation it would be the study of social conditions; what surer way of gaining vital knowledge of modern society than to live and work among the world’s workmen in every clime? In the final reckoning, too, an inherent Wanderlust, to which, as an American, I lay no claim as a unique characteristic, was certainly not without its influence.

In this way, A Vagabond Journey Around the World was born.

What I find to be most impressive about this work is that Franck did not bother trying to educate his audience or finding obscure little historic anecdotes to ensure that his book would be regarded as a work of literature. No, he simply wrote through the lens of his own experience and nothing more. All assumptions about the lands and people that he travelled amongst must be made through this record of experience- through the man himself. Franck was a man who wrote; the author cannot be removed from his words. A Vagabond Journey is a pure testament to the Wanderlust in all regards; I bow down and defer to it as a classic. This book is a joyous celebration of the Road. This is the tale of a true Vagabond Journey Around the World.

This book sets my feet a walking. . . with a smile . . .I wish for all travellers to read it.

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Filed under: Books

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3054 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Cincinnati, Ohio, USAMap

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