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Starting with a rush-hour subway ride to South Station in Boston to catch the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, Paul Theroux takes a grand railway adventure first across the United States and then south through Mexico, Central America, and across the Andes until he winds up on the meandering Old Patagonian Express steam engine. His epic commute finally comes to a halt in a desolate land of cracked hills and thorn bushes that reaches toward Antarctica.
Along the way, Theroux demonstrates how train travel can reveal ""the social miseries and scenic splendors" of a continent. And through his perceptive prose we learn that what matters most are the people he meets along the way, including the monologuing Mr. Thornberry in Costa Rica, the bogus priest of Cali, and the blind Jorge Luis Borges, who delights in having Theroux read Robert Louis Stevenson to him.
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