"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
LOS ANGELES — Last Thursday was an interesting news day around here — and one that highlighted the importance of local reporting as newspapers fade away across the country.
NEW YORK — When the Constitution of the first modern democracy, the United States of America, was written, only about 10 percent of the population of the 13 states was granted the right to vote: white men who owned property.
LOS ANGELES — Sad to say, the most telling commentary on world affairs these days seems to come from comedians. The latest is Jimmy Fallon, the new "Tonight Show" host, who responded to Secretary of State John Kerry's reaction to the news that Russian soldiers were moving into Crimea:
DALLAS — Greg Abbott, a former judge and three-term attorney general of the great state of Texas, is expected to be the state's next governor. His official biography puts him on the side of God, the American way and children of all ages:
DALLAS — A few months ago, I agreed to talk at a program at the Sixth Floor Museum here, the building once called the Texas School Book Depository, the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald waited, on the sixth floor, with a rifle for the motorcade that carried President John F. Kennedy to Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963.
LOS ANGELES — Immigration is something like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but not many people really want to do anything about it.
LOS ANGELES — I took my J448 students — that's "Government and Public Affairs Reporting" at the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California — to a local Democratic club last Sunday. I wanted them to see and meet the new mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and one of the most effective elected officials of his generation, Congressman Henry Waxman.
LOS ANGELES — I was surprised to see two long stories in last Thursday's New York Times about the same subject: cheating.
LOS ANGELES — I grew up in Jersey — Jersey City. I don't remember being west of the Delaware River until I was in college. I thought the United States was an Italian country governed by the Irish.
LOS ANGELES — It is refreshing for me to find myself in agreement with "mainstream" Republicans, beginning with House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan. I think.
LOS ANGELES — There was a cigarette commercial in the early 1960s that went, "I'm smoking more and enjoying it less." The president at the time, John F. Kennedy, going through a rough patch, was asked how he felt about one negative story after another in the nation's press. "Well," he said, "I'm reading more and enjoying it less."
LOS ANGELES — The news of the day Friday included a dispatch from Saudi Arabia reporting that 11 people were killed by drone-fired missiles in a remote corner of Yemen. The story added that five days before, three men were killed in a drone attack in another part of the country.
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: