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"Chancy, devastating weather is the bad news about the tropics. The good news is that the travel writer Alexander Frater has again been navigating the region, as he did so memorably in "Chasing the Monsoon " . . . Frater skips lightly among dozens of countries and several centuries . . . He is unfailingly jolly even when-especially when-faced with wretched food and sanitation . . . As in Proust's epic, this is the story of how a child grew up to become the author of the savory book we are reading."-Richard B. Woodward, "New York Times "(Armchair Traveler)"Ranging broadly over this vast area [of the tropics], Frater tells tall tales, gives lessons in history, politics, and economics, and recounts his personal adventures. This world is literally teeming with natural wonders, local characters, and wild stories . . . Entertaining."-Barbara Fisher, "Boston Globe""Frater's thoughts and conversations reveal the torrid zone on a very personal level. The reader can almost feel the stifling wet