The Best of the Million Mile Walker Dispatch, December 2022


Dear Friends and Colleagues from Around the World,

In this year in review issue, I’ll highlight my new book and share the most compelling stories from the Culture Watch. My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road was published by and was announced in the May issue of the Dispatch. It was inspired by a quote from Paul Theroux from his Picture Palace, which put my fifty years of travel into perspective and allowed me to appreciate the miscues, disasters, and disappointments.

The response from fellow travel writers was immediate:

“Walker delights in this chapbook with amusing and touching anecdotes, insights into travel lessons, and good old-fashioned storytelling.”  Craig Storti, author of Why Travel Matters and The Hunt for Mount Everest.

One of my eight articles published in 2022, “The Saddest Pleasure: Moritz Thomsen: A Personal Reflection from a Former Peace Corps Volunteer,” was published by the prestigious classic travel publication ELAND Books and was highlighted in the February issue of the Dispatch.

Local writer, editor, and writing coach Susan Pohlman commented, “What a great essay. You sound like the official expert on Moritz Thomsen and the right person to pen a book about him.”  And she is right—but that will come out next year…

The most gratifying recognition came from the Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing, which gave me a “Bronze” for “Tschiffely’s Epic Equestrian Ride,” which is part of my Yin & Yang of Travel Series.

Culture Watch

One of the most disconcerting stories I covered last year was the growing militarization of our country, the focus of the February Dispatch issue. I reported on the details and implications of a rare bi-partisan agreement for a $768 billion budget. Check out the Costs of War Project with the grim facts on the number of lives lost in the Twenty Years of Bloodshed & Delusion report, which includes a chart on the number of people killed in various parts of the world with U.S. armaments. I’ll be reporting on this again, as Congress passed an even larger budget for this year–$858 Billion, representing a sixth of our government budget overall!

Despite all the positive projects this year, one major disappointment headlined the  June Dispatch, “Rave Review for My New Book—Not So Much for Our Guatemala Documentary.” After four years of hard work with fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer/cinematographer Hal Rifken, we were compelled to shut down “Trouble in the Highlands,” which included the profiles and circumstances of those who were fleeing Guatemala and Central America or could help us understand why so many continue to leave.

Fortunately, I wrote about the people we met and what we learned, which will be part of my next book, The Guatemala Reader: A Literary Journey.

Photo: Cliff Nagel

In the November Dispatch, I shared some of my own stories in “Talking About Racism in the U.S.” I was brought up in Plainfield, New Jersey, which suffered from violence and racial strife in the 60s, although I was oblivious to the causes. Later on, as a staff member of an international organization in Brunswick, Georgia, for ten years, I was taken aback at the death of a Black jogger who appeared “suspicious” by three white guys in a pick-up. I also highlighted four amazing books about the phenomenon from people who know what they’re talking about, such as Imani Perry, whose book South to America recently won the National Book Award for Nonfiction.

In the August Dispatch,Growing Threats to our Freedom of Expression,” I drew attention to the other side of the race coin—those who would selectively whitewash our history to ignore stories we don’t want to be shared through the growth of book-banning and my involvement with PEN America to combat it by expanding to ten cities in the U.S., including Phoenix.

The group’s second meeting at Changing Hands Book Store in Phoenix was the focus of the September Dispatch. Local authors and poets read from some of the banned books.

Ed Cohen, the host of Global TV Talk Show, asked revealing questions about my writing, career, the publishing industry, and immigration issues, including the “mess” on our southern border. Ed has done over 500 interviews, and 20% of them are with writers. After his interview, he said, “…so, would you walk a million miles for a cause you loved? Mark did it.”

My second interview with Bill Miller of Global Connections TV should be in the next few weeks.

I’ve made several presentations to local writers’ groups like the Arizona Professional Writers Group. Still, my favorite was on stage, where eighty people attended the “For The Love of A Story” event at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion in Carefree, Arizona. I performed “La Pulsera” (My Bracelet). The best part of the performance was getting to know the other nine writers who shared their stories.

Book Reviews

 I’m now a book review team member for The Authors Show, which provides support by interviewing and helping writers get the word out about their latest book.

 My Million Mile Walker Review: What We’re Reading and Why is included in the holiday issue of the Arizona Authors Association newsletter. It’s 50 pages long, with essays and resources from some of the best authors in the State. You can click on the poster at the top of the Dispatch to see the newsletter starting with “recent and upcoming events” on pages 5-6 and then my review of a book on the early history of Scottsdale, Those Who Are Gone, which starts on page 29.

 Just Keep Laughing        

 Laughing in Disbelief.

 George Carlin always keeps us in stitches. His above observation applied to Arizona voters who supported our array of conspiracy election theories denying candidates, but the majority came to their senses. Although the GOP candidate for governor continues to complain about her loss in court, a judge finally ruled she must pay $33,000 to cover court expenses, giving us the last laugh. For more details, see the October issue of the Dispatch, Some Crazy Things are Going on in Arizona and beyond.

Voices of the Day

“Not all those who wander are lost,” J.R.R. Tolkien.

“Ignorance is not bliss; it’s stupid. Banning books shows you don’t trust your kids to think and you don’t trust yourself to … talk to them.” ― Anna Quindlen.

Reflections on End-of-Year Giving

I’ve been an executive fundraiser for over 35 years, and this year I sent modest gifts to 35 different agencies to let them know how important their work is and to encourage them. But my focus was on the growing level of homelessness in the Phoenix area, where all the streets surrounding the Andre House for Hospitality are lined with tents and makeshift housing for over 1,500 people. I appreciated the support of many of you in raising $400 for my FundMe campaign for this group. I also made my annual trip to their library with 75 books, including my new book.


  • January 21, 2023, 10:00 a.m.: The Making of My Saddest Pleasures, a Zoom event for the Arizona Professional Writers
  • January 21, 2023, 6:00 p.m.: PEN America: Reproductive Writes: Night of Free Expression, Fun & Body Autonomy, Changing Hands Book Store at 300 W. Camelback, Phoenix
  • February 22: “My Daily Rituals: How I Write and Why, at the Desert Foothills Library Authors Series, in Cave Creek, Arizona.

 You can find my 60 book reviews and 28 articles, plus several videos, on my website, including a reduced price for my new book if you read it and pass it along to your local library. “Follow” me on Twitter., @millionmile_wal, and Facebook at for the latest on international affairs and literature. And, as always, if you’ve read “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond,” rate it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads, or if you don’t have it, please consider purchasing it or, better still, purchase my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road



Mark Walker

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