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September 18 , 2010

My Mercedes Is Not for Sale


"My Mercedes Is Not for Sale" is a rollicking, witty and insightful tale of an innocent abroad which captures the high-spirited adventure of a young journalist and paints a vivid portrait of West Africa through a surprise-filled journey into its thriving car cult. "My Mercedes is Not for Sale" has all the wit and charm of John Mole's bestselling "Its All Greek to Me!" and Peter Allison's "Don't Run, Whatever You Do" and the philosophical underpinnings of Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".Dutch journalist Jeroen van Bergeijk came up with what seemed like a great scheme for making a quick profit: buy an old banger in Amsterdam and resell it in the Third World, where a market for clapped-out cars still thrives. His chariot of choice is a rusty 1988 Mercedes 190D with 140,000 miles on the clock; his route takes him from Holland through Morocco, across the Sahara, and into some of the least trodden parts of Africa. Van Bergeijk finds himself facing a driving challenge akin to a Dakar Road Rally but encounters obstacles never dreamed of by race-car drivers: active minefields, occasional banditry-mostly by the border guards - and a teenaged, chain-smoking desert guide with a fondness for Tupac lyrics.Food and water are scarce, sandstorms are frequent, and all he has to patch up his many car breakdowns thousands of miles from civilization is a bar of soap, some duct tape, and a pair of women's tights. Then there's the coup he lived through. "My Mercedes Is Not for Sale" captures more than the adventure - it vividly portrays the impact of globalization on Africa through an adventurous and sometimes dangerous journey into its thriving car culture.
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