Michael Moynihan on the Politics of Travel Guides

"Travel guide writers are obsessed with authenticity," says Reason Contibuting Editor Michael C. Moynihan. "You'll find people who say 'isn't it adorable when you go to Havana that they have all these Packards from the 1950s?' Well, no it's not. This is a pretty grim assessment of the economics of Cuba."

In a recent piece in Foreign Policy, Moynihan dissects several popular travel guides and finds "the guidebooks are clotted with historical revisionism, factual errors, and a toxic combination of Orientalism and pathological self-loathing." 

Moynihan sat down with Reason TV's Kennedy to discuss his article, the political and cultural biases in travel guides, and why the burqa should not be considered "a tool for social mobility" as Lonely Planet's guide to Afghanistan suggests.

About 3.30 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher, Camera by Jim Epstein and Fisher.

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Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Really, we're combining Moynihan with Kennedy?

  • ||

    I know right. This is probably Kennedy's best ResonTV bit to date. The less she says the better.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Um, where did my posted comments go? And BP's?

  • BakedPenguin||

    If I'd known my comment would be disappeared, I would have made it unimaginably profane and off topic.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm offended at this affront. It was even a relevant and complimentary comment!

  • Paleo-ConAvenger||

    Is it just me or does this seem new?

    "We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time"

  • Pro Libertate||

    Nah, they've had that for a while.

    I think all of the comments got zapped inadvertently, because all BP and I said was that Cuba is a hole and shouldn't be.

  • ||

    Um, where did my posted comments go? And BP's?

    I may or may not have said something bad about Moynihan being between jobs.

    But i ended it with saying i wanted him back with reason...so who knows.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Are the Castros really the hardest dictators to topple?

  • Archduke PantsFan||

    remember the Alamo!

  • Ryan60657||

    What about travel to other third world nations, like Mississippi?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You mean where the cities are being reclaimed by the wilderness?

    Wait, someone just told me that Detroit is in Michigan, not Mississippi.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Doesn't CN do travel reporting or something? I guess I should actually bother to read my local newspaper once in a while.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Yeah. And I agree completely with Moynihan's take.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And this week I go to Branson, Mo., ant1. You sure as fuck don't want to miss that.

  • geo1113||

    What...no photos of Hyman Roth!!!

  • Emma||

    A great site for booking transportation and hotels is www.worldwideetravel.com ! Great photos, reviews, and discounts !

  • yweuijhbcf||

    Here are More characteristics, novel style,varieties,and good quality low price



  • Agile Cyborg||

    Excellent piece. This has been one of my pet peeves for quite some time. Travel shows are also just as guilty of promoting Pollyanna to viewers when they glibly and happily sample even brutal locales. I find this nauseating and patronizing.

  • Jeanne||

    Great piece! I've also heard the argument that income from tourists ruins 3rd world countries because it allows them to improve and moves them away from being "authentic". Which I think is akin to saying, please stay poor so we can admire it.

  • Hugo S. Cunningham||

    As an anticommunist who has often relied on Lonely Planet guides, I was always aware of the risk that overly outspoken literature might be confiscated at the border. A politically honest guide won't be much help planning your next day's itinerary if it is sitting in a police warehouse. Also, locals known to have talked to a tourbook writer who later turned out to be an enemy of the state may expect uncomfortable interviews of their own at the police station.

    In short: don't judge the book's politics too harshly, but don't be taken in either.

  • rweuynbxdq||

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