I Wouldn't Start From Here

The Twentieth Century And Where It All Went Wrong

Andrew Mueller

Published: 1 August 2008
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 496 pages
ISBN: 9781846271519


With considerable skill, Mueller skids around the globe from failed state to ravaged war zone to desolate no-man's-land, from Beirut to Basra via Belfast and Bihac, to try to unpick why we humans seem so prone to plucking war from the jaws of peace, why so much that can go wrong does go wrong, over and over again, and how and why some conflicts suddenly, quietly, inexplicably seem to find themselves solved. It's a surprisingly sunny book given the mire in which he finds himself. And it is a notably entertaining and eye-opening tour of the world's moral basements in the vein of Holidays in Hell or Emergency Sex.

About the author

Image of Andrew Mueller

Andrew Mueller was born in Wagga Wagga, Australia, in 1968, and has lived in London and hotels since 1990. He currently writes on various subjects for The Independent, Independent On Sunday, Guardian, Monocle, Arena, Uncut, High Life, New Humanist and anyone else who'll have him. He is also the author of Rock & Hard Places and a contributing editor to the fifth edition of Robert Young Pelton's The World's Most Dangerous Places. He has also written sleevenotes for Straitjacket Fits, The Go-Betweens, Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions, and programme notes for U2. He has been twice shortlisted for a OneWorld Media Award, once for a Travelex Travel Writers' Award, and is commendably unembittered about having won none of them. Andrew Mueller is also singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist with The Blazing Zoos, widely regarded as one of the three or four dozen very best country & western groups in east London. www.andrewmueller.net More about the author


‘A 21st-century original; a fresh, irreverent, wry and jovial jaunt of a guidebook around our violent and baffling modern world ... I Wouldn't Start from Here confronts the horror and failures of our young century with understated joy for life. It is rich in rock opinion, recalling interviews with Bono and Neil Young, comparing the relative qualities of Stratocasters and Telecasters. It abounds with laugh-out-loud turns of phrase (a discordant guitar riff "buzzes beneath the chorus like a wasp trapped in a lunchbox"; Taiwan feels "like Denmark with humidity"; Georgians are the worst drivers in the world, combining "the mindless aggression of Lebanese, the terrifying fatalism of Pakistanis and the technical competence of baboons"). I can think no more entertaining travelling companion on a perilous journey than the ever-hopeful, wildly optimistic yet clear-thinking Andrew Mueller’ Rory MacLean



‘Alternately chilling, funny and surprising, there's some great reportage here as Mueller struggles to reach an understanding of the state of the world, quizzing the highest minister and the lowest peasant, and even getting himself (hilariously) imprisoned in Cameroon for his troubles’

‘An addictive read. Echoing P. J. O'Rourke's classic forays into war-torn territories, he takes us to places we wouldn't otherwise see’ Susan Wright

‘Andrew Mueller ... has spent a lot of time in grim, war-torn, undemocratic locations. But this collection of such places is a joy ... he is simultaneously positive and bleak. A political travelogue of some of the worst events of the last eight years, this book seems to bring hope and to shame us for our own inaction’ Jerome de Groot

‘Andrew Mueller has travelled around the world from failed state to ravaged war zone. Eye-opening and at times eye-watering’

‘Andrew Mueller is a gung-ho Candide with a taste for places that it is wiser to avoid. IWSFH is graphic, comic, bemused and properly contemptuous of faith and ideology’ Jonathan Meades

‘Considered, brutally funny dispatches from the world's most dangerous places ... Mueller has reworked and expanded them in such a way that what ensues for the reader is an instructive ricochet between cities and continents and war zones ... most of the comedy - and there's a lot of it -inheres in Mueller's wide-eyed bafflement at what he encounters.’ John O’Connell

‘Here is a compendium of essays datelined between 2000 and 2008, and concerning Basra, Kabul, Gaza and other places from which it might be impolitic to send a postcard signed off: "Wish you were here"’ Andrew Martin

‘His sardonic, self-deprecating perspective makes for unstuffy company’ Carolyn Kellogg

‘Improbably amusing ... Mueller's bite-sized dispatches from some of the world's most catastrophic trigger points of recent times ... provide a wry, informed and frequently baffled commentary on the idiocy of modern human behaviour’ Claire Allfree

‘In his touching, often blackly comic reportage Mueller never claims to be an expert in global affairs, instead meandering the streets, relaying the situation as it is on the ground for people in the wrong place at the wrong time’

‘In these travel pieces despatched from the kind of places tourists don't usually go, Mueller displays black humour reminiscent of P. J. O'Rourke’

‘Jaded rock journalist turned maverick foreign correspondent Andrew Mueller journeys through war zones and the world's trouble spots in an attempt to discover why humans are so prone to plucking war from the jaws of peace.’

‘Lively reporting from a gently humorous narrator ... the book comes recommended’ Chris Ayers

‘Mueller is immediately and poignantly comical ... Intriguing stuff’

‘Mueller's prose is as spectacular as a Taliban attack on Lollapalooza’ P. J. O'Rourke

‘Mueller's travel writing is as insightful and as entertaining as anything he has ever written about music ... I Wouldn't Start ... is one helluva ride’ Alison Grinter

‘Mueller's travels ... are not always pleasant, often dangerous, but always interesting and laced with dark, comic irony’ Hfu Reisenhofer

‘Reporting from the world's plague-spots, Mueller asks the questions the rest of us were far too busy being clever to think of. Think Douglas Adams meets Holidays in HellMichael Bywater

‘The kind of traveller who never leaves home without an iPod, insect repellent and a Kevlar flak jacket, Mueller is a journalist with an affinity for flashpoints - that or he's invoked the homicidal ire of the editors of countless papers and magazines ... His acerbic wit is matched by true empathy, so encounters with militants are leavened by new friendships with people clinging to hope. With wars rumbling on, and continuing oppression in Zimbabwe and Burma to name just two, we need this kind of investigative gonzo journalism more than ever’ Paul Bloomfield

‘This book is full of the sort of elemental survival humour and remove-your-own-appendix directions crucial for travel in these absurdist times’ Jonathan Kaplan

‘This energised travelogue takes in political and religious hotspots ... with Mueller as hilarious and sardonic a host as this ridiculous world of ours demands’

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