In the last sentence of his memoir, David Allard writes: “Through all my adventures and misadventures, successes and failures, I have one constant thought to share: may the roads you travel cause you to look breathlessly.”
That summarizes the outlook and life of Allard, a geologist who has worked in the oil business for more than 30 years. His career has taken him and his family around the world – from stateside assignments to postings in South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. His duties have included exploration in the field, analysis of that work, overseeing office operations, running workshops, and negotiating with government officials and business partners.
All that is recounted here, but as the title indicates, culture gets top billing over his job and even his beloved golf. No matter where he’s working, he makes time to explore the region’s history, customs, food and people. Allard brings admirable curiosity to his adventures, which are presented somewhat like a journal, complete with inconsequential stories, such as a family cookout.
When the author writes about his career, he offers glimpses into a largely misunderstood industry. He doesn’t go too deeply into this topic, but when he does, he sometimes lapses into difficult jargon: “We began drilling at 4,877 m in the 6” hole and it took off. We’ve drilled to 4,910 before the trip gas starts coming up. . .. Gas shows came up in 1,500 units in the surface detectors…”
Another issue is the book’s copyeditng. There are some factual mistakes: St. Peter’s Basilica referred to as St. Peter’s Cathedral, for example, and the Roman Colosseum as “Coliseum.” Also, Allard is prone to random capitalization (Stock Analysts, Sr. Management, Bell tower, etc.), apostrophes are misused, and commas are routinely missing from most appositives. This makes for an uneven read.
All told, the book’s issues impact reading enjoyment. Some revision would help readers better engage with this account of Allard’s travels along many interesting roads.