"Let's go around the world. The whole family together. All the kids," said the mother.
"What are you crazy? We're not rich. People can't quit jobs," said the father.
"The tickets are the biggest bargain there is, like $2,000....We'll do the whole trip in thirty days!"
They did it and lived to tell the tale in eight voices. The political writer, his wife the do-gooder, and three of their kids -- Colin, the television producer, Conor, the rock singer, and Fiona, the ten-year-old headed for parts unknown and known. The chef, Cynthia, and her husband caught up as soon as Ian, the first grandson, was old enough to fly -- eight weeks old, to be exact. There were no rules, except one bag each -- and the things seemed to mate as mother and daughters swept through markets in a dozen languages and the men of the family gambled in one.
After sixteen countries, a couple of dozen ambassadors, prime ministers, and assorted other high mucky-mucks including one Living Goddess and one Nose Dropping Divine Progenitor, two strip-searches, club-swinging cops and soldiers, explosions, wars and near-wars, a hundred arguments, and a thousand laughs, nine Reeves, O'Neills, and two Fyfes made it from Los Angeles to New York by way of Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, Guangzhu, Denpasar, Ubud, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Singapore, Kathmandu, Delhi, Agra, Islamabad, Dubai, Cairo, Jerusalem, Jericho, Berlin, Paris, and St. Pierre-sur-Dives.
Then there was the overnight Deluxe Sleeper train across Java, which had been canceled four years ago, leaving the troupe in deluxe air-conditioning as described by Colin: "It began with the battle for seats in the total darkness, which became blinding fluorescent white light . . . it was like trying to sleep in the refrigerated ice-cream trough of a supermarket, sitting upright on a stack of Breyer's, during an earthquake. Eleven hours. . . . This is how they get people to confess during wartime."
And a father-daughter sunset over a golden Nile. "It's just amazing," Fiona said and her dad began a number on the cradle of civilization. . . ."No, no, not the river," she said. "I think it's amazing that I'm here at the river."
"Yeah," said the father. "Me too."
Back home, Conor the rock singer, who sometimes felt like he had been kidnapped, said: "Whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. We all got to know each other a little bit better."
"So, where do we go next?"
"Laughs -- tears -- insights -- and amazing sights. This is NOT the Brady Bunch at a state park." Tom Brokaw
"Fast, funny, fabulous -- and cheap. The amazingly functional Reeves family does for world travel what disposable diapers did for car trips -- makes you want to go!" Gail Sheehy, author of New Passages and The Silent Passage
"The Plan was the hardest part, with Catherine O'Neill persuading her husband, Richard Reeves, and three of their kids, including two spouses and one infant, to agree: first to an affordable round-the-world trip, and then on an itinerary. The emergent trip started in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, followed by Indonesia, Nepal, India, Dubai, Egypt, Israel, Germany, and France. Told mostly by Richard, but with asides and journal entries from the rest of the family, not counting the babe, the family peregrination is filled with beautiful travel vignettes, interesting and laudable family dynamics, and much fun." Amazon.com
"Syndicated columnist Reeves, author most recently of Running in Place , turns his attention from presidential politics to travel in this multivoiced narrative of his family's 1995 'round-the-world-in-34-days trip. Reeves and his wife, Catherine O'Neill, had "done" circumnavigation in 22 days with their recently blended family in 1981; this time, their troop included sons-in-law and, before the trip was over, the couple's first grandchild. This trip was a predominantly Asian journey, stopping in Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Denpasar, Ubud, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Singapore, Nepal, Delhi, Islamabad, and then Dubai, Cairo, Jerusalem, Berlin, and Paris. Yes, many of those names will be unfamiliar to most readers, which means Family Travels offers a wide range of exotic information, as well as the perceptions of various family members on aspects of the places they visited. Gracefully written; likely to intrigue armchair travelers." Mary Carroll, Booklist
"A book about presidents and prime ministers, karate tournaments in Japan and night trains in Indonesia, the Nose Dropping Divine Progenitor in Taipei, the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, and the Berlin Wall, Family Travels recounts the experiences of award-winning writer Richard Reeves and his family on a month-long journey that would take them through luxury and poverty, politics and war, discomfort and discovery." Ingram
The International Herald Tribune is gone after more than 125 years as the American paper in France and then all over the world. Two months ago, it was renamed The International New York Times. That's a bit sad for someone like me who began at the New York Herald Tribune before it folded in 1966. Luckily, I was picked up by The Times, so my loyalties are split.
NEW YORK — Twenty-five years ago, I asked Charles Bartlett, a syndicated columnist, about his old and close friend John F. Kennedy. I have seen his answer published and broadcast dozens of times these past weeks as the nation marks the anniversary of the assassination of our 35th president.
NEW YORK — It was the usual suspects taping the Charlie Rose show last Monday: a quartet of writers who had written books about the life or the presidency of John F. Kennedy — Robert Dallek, Michael Beschloss, Jeff Greenfield and me, along with Jill Abramson, the editor of The New York Times.
LOS ANGELES — The president knew. Presidents always know, but are supposed to be protected from what they saw, heard and did when the best-laid plans hit the fan.
LOS ANGELES — Perhaps those tea party guys are smarter than they look. After all, these men and women in Congress came to Washington determined to cripple big government — or even destroy it. They, 30 or 40 bent Republicans, were mad as hell at where the country is going and how it is governed. Now, with a minimum of sabotage, millions and millions of Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, share their hatred of Washington.
LOS ANGELES — Several years ago, Mike Pence, then a Republican congressman from Indiana, told Andrea Mitchell that Medicare was a failure because its costs had exceeded 1965 actuarial estimates. So they have, because Americans are living longer, largely because of Medicare and Medicaid.
WASHINGTON — If the Republicans in Congress are unable to prevent the United States from paying its bills later in this month of shutdowns and deficit limits, I assume their next move will be an attempt to impeach President Obama.
LOS ANGELES — Dana Milbank of The Washington Post reported on a meeting recently at the Heritage Foundation, the very conservative "think tank" in Washington, to discuss the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.
LOS ANGELES — "It might be called the age of the genius machines, and it will be the people who work with them that will rise. One day soon we will look back and see that we have produced two nations — a fantastically successful nation, working in the technologically dynamic sectors, and everyone else. Average is over."
WASHINGTON — Syria: We're damned if we do, damned if we don't.
WASHINGTON — The power of historians and of the press is that they get to choose which events will be remembered and which fade into obscurity. Our choice concerning the events of Aug. 28, 1963, made with the help of news film, is the elevation of the performance and words of Martin Luther King Jr. and the obscuring of the fear that gripped the nation that hot and sunny day.
NEW YORK — Five years after Richard Nixon resigned as president, I did a long interview with him in his hideaway office in a downtown federal building. We were talking about the travels and writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, the French author of "Democracy in America." I was then seeking out the current counterparts of the Americans who talked with Tocqueville during his nine-month journey through the new and democratic United States in the 1830s.
LOS ANGELES — Fair warning: This column is about gigabytes of data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, focusing mainly on Gini coefficients for the 34 member nations of the OECD. The purpose of this exercise, is to try to use OECD data and analysis to determine whether life in the United States is getting better or worse by studying statistics on inequality in our nation.
LOS ANGELES — A Republican pollster named Jon Lerner, who usually works for the most conservative of his party's candidates, did a poll this month for Fwd.us, the pro-immigration lobby financed by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.
LOS ANGELES — In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville, the young Frenchman traveling in the United States to research what many think is still the best book on America and Americans, was seated next to former President John Quincy Adams at a dinner in Boston. They talked:
LOS ANGELES — In the days following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began arresting, without charges, Japanese immigrants in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii who were on government lists as possible threats to national security.
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — "Give us also the right to our existence!" was a prayer that ends "The Well of Loneliness," an English lesbian novel by Radclyffe Hall, published in 1928. Tame by today's standard, the semi-autobiographical book was banned in Great Britain and had great trouble finding an American publisher.
LOS ANGELES — If you walk into a Barnes & Noble store — yes, there are actual bookstores here — you are more or less surrounded by tables and shelves marked "Beach Reading." But if you're not going to the beach anytime soon, there are three very good books farther in the back. The titles are enough to make your head hurt:
SAG HARBOR, N.Y. — In a place of honor on my office wall is a photograph of me relieving myself in the bushes alongside the field where some of us here play softball on summer Saturdays. It is, happily, taken from the back.
PARIS — An estimated (by police) 150,000 people took to the streets of the French capital last Sunday to protest "le marriage pour tous." That is "marriage for everyone," the same-sex legislation signed into law last week by President Francois Hollande. Meanwhile, in the south of the country, the Palme d'Or, the highest honor of the Cannes Film Festival, was awarded to a film called "Blue Is the Warmest Color," a long and very explicit film about a teenager's wakening lesbianism.
SIENA, Italy — Here's a modest idea to break the gridlock, the stupidity, the meanness, the partisan lying and irresponsible ineffectiveness of modern Washington. We should consider returning to the Middle Ages.
LOS ANGELES — Just about 30 years ago, I wrote a "Reporter at Large" article for The New Yorker magazine about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans living, illegally and legally, in Southern California. The Mexican and Chicano population of Los Angeles was the second-largest Mexican city in the world, behind only Mexico City itself.
LOS ANGELES — Times are tough. Do the numbers: Chief executive officers (CEOs) of the country's biggest companies experienced pay increases of a minuscule 15 percent in 2012, compared with the 28 percent their pay rose in 2011.
LOS ANGELES — A very wise man, Harvard philosopher George Santayana, said more than a hundred years ago: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
LOS ANGELES — When ATMs, the cash machines, began to appear on the outside walls of banks in the 1970s, I refused to go near them. My mother was a teller at the Trust Company of New Jersey on Journal Square in Jersey City, and I knew the machines were designed to eliminate her job.
LOS ANGELES — I thought I had said all I had to say last week about the accelerated change in American attitudes toward gay marriage and "illegal" immigration. But there are a lot of other folks out there examining the accelerated politics of the day and generally coming to the conclusion that, after years of moving right, Americans are moving left again.
LOS ANGELES — As the Supreme Court debated last week over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the 17-year-old law barring same-sex marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia noted the number of states that are permitting gays and lesbians to marry. "There has been a sea change," he said, "between now and 1996."