Monday, July 24, 2023

Review: You Are Not Here by Eric Czuleger

 Genre: Travel Memoir/Non-Fiction/History/Politics


“American journalist Eric Czuleger dives into the twilight zone of statecraft by living in unrecognized nations in order to discover what a country really is. He begins his journey as a third-grade teacher in Iraqi Kurdistan at the height of the Kurdish independence movement. Banned by Turkey, he pivots to Kosovo where he reports during the nation's 10 year anniversary celebration. Moving on to The Black Hole of Europe, Transnistria, he arrives in time for the Russian election. Finally, Czuleger infiltrates the world's first crypto-anarchist nation, Liberland, where he parties with Bitcoin millionaires and falls into his most challenging position yet: Liberland Ambassador to Somaliland. There, in the never ending desert, he discovers the real cost of drawing a new line in the sand.

You Are Not Here: Travels Through Countries that Don't Exist is part history lesson, memoir, and adventure travelog in the tradition of Bill Bryson, Louis Theroux, and Anthony Bourdain.”


Eric Czuleger is a playwright with several plays to his credit that have been produced from coast to coast. A former Peace Corps volunteer and the son of a USA Today bestselling novelist, Czuleger has two novels he’s written that are available as well as his most recent release, a travel memoir.


I’ve been a fan of travel memoirs for many decades. As an avid traveler I find myself comparing the travel memoir author’s experience with my own, if they visit a place I’ve been, and travel with them vicariously if it is a place I haven’t been. Some of the experiences I read about I’m unlikely to experience by myself. I guarantee I’m never going to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, but have read multiple books to experience it vicariously. I feel extremely safe saying that those things Eric Czuleger experienced and the places he visited that are chronicled in this book are not things I will ever experience or places I’m likely to visit, but I can definitely learn from his experience. And I did.

The places Eric traveled to and chronicled in this book are places that see themselves as a country, just like the United States, Canada, or France is a country, but few, if any of the other countries in the world agree. Eric experiences the unique culture of these places, sometimes disconcerting and possibly a bit on the dangerous side. He observes the people and does what he can to get a feel for the impact of this country’s status with the rest of the world on its people. The theme running through the entire book is an attempt to decide exactly what it is that makes a country a country. Will he come up with the ultimate answer that we’ll all agree with? I’ll let you read and decide. Whatever the answer to that question, his exploration and consideration of this was an interesting exercise that got me thinking a lot about not only countries that might not be an actual country, but also about the differences, both good and not so good, to those places that clearly are countries.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


A small amount of adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

Review is based on a pre-release ARC (advance reader copy) and I can’t gauge the final product based on this version.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

No comments: