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The Lunatic Express - Discovering the World...via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains and Planes
(Broadway Books) ISBN 978-0767929806 0767929802

Mention high adventure travel and most people think of mountain climbing, white water rafting and Antarctica expeditions. Carl Hoffman did not take a package tour. He spent five months traveling through five continents in overcrowded ferries, poorly maintained buses and airlines with terrible safety records.

Hoffman's adventure holiday carried a high actuarial risk for travel insurance coverage, as readers can see in the Appendix. The lack of private, quiet, reliable and safe transportation was far from luxury adventure travel.

Travel with the locals

While dangerous, traveling by modes of transportation used by millions of people daily leads to human encounters, which make his book especially fascinating.

Easy to read, and filled with quotes from the people Carl Hoffman met, Lunatic Express is a compelling description of international travel.

Organized into three parts, Americas, Africa and Asia, each of the 12 chapters begins with a newspaper report of a travel disaster, such as a bus crash or a ferry sinking.

Black and white maps depict his international adventures by airplane, bus, car, truck, train and boat.

Indian trains

In this 287-page book, Hoffman shows readers that traveling with local people, using their everyday modes of transport, is fun and exciting. Lunatic Express offers insights into local customs and people that are impossible to obtain with adventure travel packages.

In chapter 7, he describes traveling by train from Mumbai to Kolkata. Even though he traveled third class (non-air conditioned, but better than fourth class), he sat on a hard bench for 15 hours. Everyone in the crowded car was covered with dust and grime from the open windows. A complete stranger insisted that he eat his dal, naan and vegetable curry lunch.

The Lunatic Express - Discovering the World via its most dangerous buses, boats, trains and planes


Prologue: Time for Prayer

  • Go!
  • Hope for Buena Suerte
  • Your Time Comes or It Doesn't
  • Agents of Death and Destruction
  • That Train is Very Bad
  • Jalan! Jalan!
  • The 290th Victim
  • I Can Only Cry My Eyes
  • What to Do?
  • Scariana
  • Hope and Wait
  • Same, Same, but Different


Carl Hoffman has written several stories for major travel magazines and U.S. publications.

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