"The Hidden Europe is an invigorating narrative packed with useful tips and colorful stories. . . . It's an entertaining summary of his observations on spending time in each of the 25 different countries in the eastern half of the continent. . . . I had so much fun reading through this book. And it covers every country and every corner of Eastern Europe with a beautiful breezy style, with a fun, intimate report on how Francis enjoyed 3 years exploring Eastern Europe." — Rick Steves, Travel Expert
“Francis Tapon provides us with a wide-ranging personal and historical travelogue. . . . The result is one of the world's most personal, idiosyncratic, and unorthodox cultural and historical travel guide. It's really an impressive and ambitious book.” — Michael Krasny, Host on KQED's Forum
“Francis Tapon is a modern incarnate of the spirit of Solon or Pericles: he travels to foreign countries to watch things, for the sake of contemplation. And he does it with an extremely sharp eye and lot of wit. The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us is not only the book of the year; it also sets the twenty-first century’s standard for travelogues.” — Flórián Farkas, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Eurasian Studies
“The Hidden Europe is a brilliant and insightful book. Francis Tapon travels for years visiting every Eastern European at least twice. What emerges is a travelogue on steroids. It’s profound, but has a light tone. You’ll learn much and laugh often.” — Amar Bhidé, Professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
“Francis Tapon analyzes Eastern European economies, politics, and history on the one hand, and then he’ll share his linguistics woes and truly unusual escapades on the other. Somehow it all works, like a carefully (and often funny!) assembled jigsaw puzzle.” — Adrian Mihai Cioroianu, Ph.D., former Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs
“Francis Tapon is the master of taking highly complex issues about Eastern Europe and making them easy to understand and enjoyable to read. The Hidden Europe is a competition between profound insights and devilish humor. Either way, the reader wins.” — Marco Iansiti, Harvard Business School professor
“Francis Tapon is a modern-day Marco Polo, though unlike Marco Polo he has taken a nude sauna with a gorgeous Finnish woman. So maybe even a little better than Marco Polo. His book The Hidden Europe is a great adventure story.” — AJ Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy
"I thoroughly enjoyed the reading The Hidden Europe. I am American-born and have lived in Romania and Eastern Europe for the past 18 years. Throughout my years in Eastern Europe, I have witnessed a variety of hilarious anecdotes that I believed no one back home would ever believe. Francis has put to paper of host stories from his travels that will validate what I have always wanted to write about myself. Eastern Europe remains a misunderstood region, with beautiful tourist destinations and unexplored potential. For those thinking of traveling in the region, this is a must-read book before you board the flight." — Radu Florescu, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi (Romania)
“This is the indispensable book for understanding Eastern Europe today as the area is on the verge of integrating into and perhaps overtaking Western Europe. With wit and perception, Francis Tapon takes you on a wonderful journey.” — Peter Stansky, Professor of History, Stanford University
“They say a book teaches its readers as much about the subject matter as it does about its author, and Francis Tapon turns out to be an outstanding subject well worthy of study. His open minded attitude towards other countries and deep cultural immersions gives him unparalleled insights into each country he visits, making this one of the best travelogues I have ever read. With The Hidden Europe, Francis has earned the right to belly up to the bar with Marco Polo.” — P. Murali Doraiswamy, Professor, Duke University
“In an age where travel books are increasingly about the latest homogenized fads, Francis Tapon reminds us of the stark differences between mere tourism and real travel. Combining sharp wit with casual style, he has produced a charming and insightful portrait of a swath of Europe still defining itself, and brings to life the large identities of small places.” — Parag Khanna, author of The Second World and How to Run the World
“The Hidden Europe reveals a side of Europe that few know well. The book is entertaining and instructive. You may think you know Europe, but this book will change your perspective forever.” — Neven Borak, Adviser to the Governor of the Bank of Slovenia and author of How the Yugoslav Economy Worked and How It Collapsed
“Francis Tapon is the next Bill Bryson! Tapon’s WanderLearn Series should be called the LaughLearn Series: it’s funny and educational.” — Lawrence J. Leigh, Visiting Professor at the University of Belgrade
"This a wonderful journey through post-communist Europe and if you feel daunted by the number of countries to cover, you could not wish for a more capable guide to make it worthwhile, enjoyable and fun. With light hearted humour, Tapon introduces salient facts and memorable quirks of politics and culture that you will not only remember but wish to sample and explore for yourself." - Liliana Pop, Author of Democratising Capitalism: The Political Economy of Post-communist Transformations in Romania, 1989-2001
“The Hidden Europe combines insightful analysis with a fascinating travelogue. It serves as a supplementary travel book for the serious tourist and it makes the reader think. It is a good read.” — Neil Mitchell, Senior Lawyer for the Center for International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria
“The Hidden Europe is the kind of book you wish you had in school—it presents facts in a fun and unforgettable way. Learning has never been so entertaining!” — Bruce Ward, President, ChooseOutdoors.org
“Whereas some consider a three-week vacation long, Francis travels for three years! The Hidden Europe cleverly shares the inevitable wisdom and insights that comes with a long voyage.” — Laurie Bagley, Author of Summit!
“Francis Tapon is a rare person. He’s an adventurer who has visited much of the world, a student of history and culture who learns through first-hand experience, and a teacher who finds life lessons everywhere he goes. The countries of Eastern Europe, which I visited in the 1990s, aren’t among the more glamorous travel destinations, but are absolutely fascinating. Francis has brilliantly captured their essence in this highly readable, illuminating, and entertaining book. I enthusiastically recommend it.” — Hal Urban, Author of Life’s Greatest Lessons
“When I last visited Eastern Europe in 1969, I failed in my goal of exploring its mountains. Luckily Francis Tapon’s thrilling book has given me a you-are-there, vicarious sense of what I missed all those years ago. This new book is another triumph for our Great World Traveler, Francis Tapon.” — Ron Strickland, Author of Pathfinder
“The Hidden Europe is an insightful look into Eastern Europe that weaves your mind in and out of the region and encourages your imagination to physically take you there.” — Anil Polat, Travel Blogger, FoXnoMad
“Traveling is pleasant, but bringing back something useful at home from your trip makes the experience all the more valuable. Tapon’s insights will make you reflect about your own beliefs.” — Michael Derrer, Economist and business consultant specialized on Eastern Europe
“Francis Tapon uncovers an area of Europe that is less familiar but no less intriguing than the better known cities of the West.” — Chris Christensen, Amateur Traveler Podcast
“Francis Tapon found a unique, unexpected approach to present Eastern Europe. His accounts stem from his open curiosity accompanied by sound reasoning. His work, which includes a meticulous study on the history of the region, is most outstanding. As an amateur historian, I can also recommend his work as the clearest and most objective recent account on Hungarian history. Francis Tapon created an overview on this delicate subject with such clarity, focus, yet lightness, which I thought was impossible. I recommend his work not only to American readers, who will find it refreshing and exciting, but to every Eastern European reader as well. This book has a true potential to change the air of lingering suspicion among Eastern European nations to that of heartfelt friendship.” — Dr. Janos Molnar, Hungarian cell and molecular biologist
Review of The Hidden Europe by the Library Journal: Tapon (Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America) has produced a profoundly insightful and humorous travel narrative focusing on the part of Europe less familiar to most Americans, which continues to emerge after many years of political struggles, war, and the legacy of the iron curtain. Tapon spent three years traveling throughout Eastern Europe and here presents a chapter for each of the 25 countries he visited. He ends each chapter with a statement on what the country's people can teach all readers about living (from Serbia, he offers, "Laugh at your own misfortune"). Each chapter also includes a web address for more tourist information for that country. VERDICT Not just a tourist, Tapon is a true traveler in the tradition of Paul Theroux and Jan Morris, with the antics and sense of humor of a Bill Bryson but his own perspective and sense of adventure. He has compiled a perceptive volume about a part of Europe that most readers do not know. This book will inspire travelers (and their armchair counterparts) to take a look at these emerging nations. —Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svcs., Boulder, CO - Library Journal
In April 2012, in their "What We're Reading This Month" article, Conde Nast wrote: "Can we learn from travel writing? Francis Tapon has put together an innovative publishing concept around this idea. . . . There is something essential about the first-hand information this book contains."
Christianity Today wrote, "Russia isn't exactly 'hidden,' but we hear very little in the mainstream press about the rest of the 25 countries covered in this breezy, informative guidebook: part travelogue, part history, loaded with surprising facts, unbuttoned opinions, and schrewd observations."
The Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Eurasian Studies wrote that The Hidden Europe is "a voluminous book that you cannot put down once you commenced reading it. . . . The volume is soaked with humanity, wit, and (self-)criticism. The Hidden Europe is a buoyant travelogue written by an intelligent, sharp and open-minded American. By definition it is personal, hence subjective. But it is written with a deep sense of humility and that makes it a celebration of human cultures, humanism, and history. It can be interesting for both Eastern Europeans and people from outside of that region. For 'armchair' travelers as well as for real-life tourists. For first time visitors as well as returning 'veterans'. Since its publication I have recommended it to all of my friends. Every one of them told me that they could not put it down. Therefore I can recommend it to everyone."
Argophilia, a website specializing in Eastern European news, said in their review: "Francis Tapon knows more about Eastern Europe than any other American you will meet – be it a geography or history teacher. . . . It is a refreshing view, and by no means something you would read about in other publications. It's not a travel guide, and it's not a history book, although the author attempts to relate local history bits.
Skyscanner's review said, "Written in a light-hearted tone. . . . Part travelogue, part guide gook, part language/history/culture manual – it's a great book to dip in and out of and offers useful and interesting insight into a part of the world which is so close to the UK, yet still so undiscovered for the average Brit. Tapon takes a no-nonsense approach and doesn't hold back on his opinions. He frequently criticises aspects of culture he sees as ridiculous or silly, but always with humour, and doesn't shy away from highlighting his home country's own faults too. Recommended for anyone who wants to go beyond the well-trodden paths of Western Europe, and delve further east to roads less-traveled."
The Midwest Book Review said, "The Hidden Europe is a fascinating read with plenty to consider, very much recommended reading."
ToeSalad wrote, "Francis' book encouraged us that this is our life and we get to choose how we want to live it. . . . you will find yourself wanting to refer back to it often."
We Blog the World said, "Tapon's fascinating and engaging 736-page tale is worth every page."
Angela Corrias of Travel Calling said, "Despite its 700-something pages, you will read the book straight through. The topics you will find throughout the piece are all of deep importance, but Tapon's light style meets the challenge to make them pleasant (and hilarious!) . . . . You will be enriched by this book, you will learn what "Eastern Europe can teach us" and you will be more encouraged and curious to book there your next trip."
Outsideways wrote, "It's not your typical travel book. . . . it made me want to visit eastern Europe. . . . The Hidden Europe expanded my understanding of the world. I love learning and I love it when you can study culture and history is such an engaging manner. This is not a dry text book or travelogue."
Greek/Polish author Miltiades Varvounis wrote, "Francis Tapon is the modern Evliya Celebi. For those who have never heard of Ottoman traveller Celebi before, well, he was the 17th century's most diligent, adventurous, and wandering reporter of his time. . . . Tapon's book is not a typical travelogue, but more of a personal travel narrative, spiced with a dose of history, unusual escapades, politics and hilarious anecdotes. In fact, the book is entertaining and educational at the same time, which is a great combination. . . . If Celebi's writings provide a fascinating and unmatched picture of his world, I would dare to say the same for Tapon's writings. I hope fate will be kind to Tapon, and his book(s) will be considered in the far future, classic and well known for the 24th century reader. . . . However, the question is if you can find a book written extremely well, reminding you the unique narrative style of Evliya Celebi (forget the overrated Marco Polo and Casanova). Well, I suppose that you know the answer to that question."
Vagobond wrote, "[Francis Tapon's] latest book is a masterpiece of travel and will surely be quoted and referenced for the next decade. The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us is more than just a travelogue - it is a cultural and historical guidebook which is both intensely personal and incredibly helpful in coming to understand the places he has visited. This is not a small book – it is a massive tome filled with economic, historical, and political data that somehow manages to come across as entertaining and at times even light reading. . . . This book is something that you will reference again and again. . . . I was particularly blown away by the sections on Serbia and Russia. Russia, I kind of expected to be incredible, but with Serbia, I learned more about the country from reading your book than from traveling there myself! I had terrible experiences in Serbia, but reading The Hidden Europe made me want to go back and re-experience it."
Dr. Lyubov Fadeeva, Professor of Politics in Perm, Russia, reviewed The Hidden Europe in Russian, which has been translated here. Here are some highlights. She wrote that The Hidden Europe "is a travelogue only in form; in content it is a profound cross-national socio-cultural study. . . I will strongly recommend it to my students in Comparative Politics. . . . Most reviewers note the author's brilliant humor. I totally agree: I had a great laugh while reading the book, and I tried to pass on Tapon's humor to my friends and colleagues and to my students. His humor is hot and spicy but not offensive. . . . Francis Tapon is not afraid to be accused of violating political correctness. . . . But the author first of all is interested to listen to people and to understand people. . . . Francis Tapon is not a historian but he is very precise in historical facts and data. . . . Francis Tapon is really tolerant in respect of cultural, historical, psychological differences between people, countries and nations. . . . I have been to most of the Eastern European countries and I have contacts with colleagues from all of them. So I intended looking through the book quickly. But it was impossible. The narrative is overpowering, and once you start you can't stop. I felt like I was following the author hitch-hiking on the night roads, climbing up the hills, meeting and talking to people, attempting to understand their customs, conversations, problems, tasting unusual food. I knew a lot before and I've learned so much more on reading the book. And above all I got a real pleasure from the author's style and from his sense of humor. I do hope that Francis Tapon's book, The Hidden Europe, will be translated and published in Russian. Anyway, it is my desk book both for my Comparative Politics course and for pleasure.
Anil Polat of FoXnoMad wrote, "The Hidden Europe is one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time. . . . Francis is able to weave humor, history, and himself in such a way throughout the pages that you don't realize just how much information you're absorbing. . . . The Hidden Europe is extremely detailed, incredibly well-researched. . . . The facts inside The Hidden Europe aren't of the 'oh, that's interesting' type but more of the 'wow, I had completely no idea' variety, over and over again. I can't recommend this travel book enough, it's a wonderful read."
The Amateur Traveler site said, "All in all this was 700+ pages of incredibly interesting travel writing, with a great sense of humor. . . . This book would be good for anyone who has traveled or wants to travel to the countries in the eastern half of Europe, or for anyone who wants to study the history, economy, or people of those countries. And if you aren't particularly interested in those topics, but are open to learning something, Francis will change your mind."
The Serbian who started Eurotribe wrote, "The book is very entertaining, and most of all very insightful. . . . The book is full of humour and jokes that will definitelly crack you up. This book goes to my 'favourite' list and it will definitely be utilized as some kind of alternative travel guide when visiting some of these Eastern European countries."
Helena Wahlstrom of GoNOMAD wrote that The Hidden Europe "is an excellent read" that's filled with "scintillatingly hilarious adventures." She adds that it "is as amusing and entertaining as it is educational."
Virtual Bookcase gave it 4 out 5 stars and wrote, "A good read for someone wanting to learn more about this part of the world. . . a very entertaining book. I applaud Francis for searching a way to immerse himself in each country by preferring staying with a local with an available couch."
The Chernobyl and Eastern Europe website wrote, "Humorous anecdotes are used to keep the book both entertaining and enlightening. If you enjoy Anthony Bourdain's honest, no holds barred approach to commentaries on food and travel, then you're going to love this book. While long at 736 pages, it is an easy and enticing read. I highly recommend this book to everyone, even those who rarely travel."
Belletristic Book Babes said that The Hidden Europe was "one of the most educating and entertaining books I've read in a long time. . . . The book is humorous and educational at the same time, which is a great combination. . . . It's very funny and very educational for American adults, his target audience."
Colleen Brynn observed The Hidden Europe is "a study of people, of culture, of why we are the way we are, and what we can do to better ourselves and the world we live in. The history of these countries shows us lessons we should never forget, and Francis exposes the human ego that clings to this history in a way that may make the reader more aware of his own senseless hangups. . . . What he has done by his own will and determination is nothing short of inspiring to me. . . . The pages of his book were littered with insightful comments, bright and memorable travel companions, drivers and hosts. The single best part of his book for me was his truthfulness. I am a person who does not value political correctness, and Francis apparently doesn't either. From page one, I was hooked by his blunt statement of facts, facts that may make the average reader a little uncomfortable."
Audrey Bergner of ThatBackpacker wrote, "But aside from being a very entertaining read, you can tell a lot of effort and research has been put into this book. The Hidden Europe is more than a travelogue; it is a crash course on Eastern European history, culture, language, economics, politics, religion and yes, even drinking habits."
Dr. Lolita Nikolova of the Examiner.com said that large parts of The Hidden Europe "kept my attention and curiosity through all the text.... The realistic approach and the combination of historical paragraphs, narratives, interviews and diary makes Tapon's part on Bulgaria a truthful document from early 21st century.... Good luck to the book of Francis Tapon!"
Probability Beach Blog wrote, "Humor, vivid descriptions, anecdotes stemming from seven years of wandering around that not-so-remote European region, more or less straightforward interactions with locals and, last but not least, a stunning set of photos as the perfect closure, are the main ingredients of this unusual journey. Despite its 700-something pages, you will read the book straight through. The topics you will find throughout the piece are all of deep importance, but Tapon's light style meets the challenge to make them pleasant (and hilarious!). Please, travel vicariously through Francis Tapon's words. . . ."
The John Bills Book Club wrote, "It's a non stop conveyor belt of facts. . . . Very convenient, very helpful."
You will be enriched by this book, you will learn what "Eastern Europe can teach us" and you will be more encouraged and curious to book there your next trip.
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