The Book of the Week is “Worldwalk, An Incredible Tale of Adventure and Inspiration: One American’s Four-Year Journey Alone and On Foot” by Steven M. Newman, published in 1989.
At 28 years old, the author decided to walk long distances in various countries of the world. He began his trek in Ohio in April 1983. His goal was to restore his faith in humanity by gauging the friendliness of strangers, but of course, he also took advantage of the hospitality offered to him by his contacts and friends of friends.
In October 1983, while walking in Calders, Spain, near the Mediterranean coast, he met some nice Spaniards fluent in English. One was troubled by the American government’s behavior. He said, “We are so baffled why your president Reagan wants to direct everything that happens in all the countries. It’s as if America is trying to be like Rome was.”
Much later on, while fraternizing with two low-level soldiers in the former Yugoslavia, the author was arrested. A law officer told him, “You must tell the names and addresses of everyone you have spoken to since you entered Yugoslavia.” Currently, tech companies don’t need to ask for any such data of Americans– wherever they go in the whole world. The companies already have all that from those who live their lives mostly online!
In Turkey, the author met a 25-year old medical doctor who said the government paid for his medical school education, but after graduation, he was obligated to work for the government for six years at minimum wage. Then he had to do two years of military service. After that, his life might become his own.
Later on, when the author was sorting his camera-film rolls in a teahouse, the secret police roughed him up and detained him. They pegged him for a Jew, yelling “Yahudi!” That was a serious ethnic slur in Turkey. The cops told the author their impressions of America: sex-craving, money-hungry, selfish drug addicts.
The main interrogator said, “You are fools… We’ll take American dollars or Russian rubles, and laugh at you both.” The author had taken a photo of a truck going to Iran, hauling an American tank to be used in the Iran-Iraq war. At that time, Turkey was an ally of Iran, too. The author also saw an Iran-bound roadside truck containing a wooden crate labeled, “Communication Equipment: MADE IN U.S.A.”
The author met rural peasants in the towns of Harayana in India who told him that their obtaining gainful employment required contacts or bribery rather than merit.
Read the book to learn a wealth of additional details about the author’s international travels.