Phil Karber

Author and travel writer

With a rucksack on my back, for four years after the army, I chased the fading gnosis of the ‘60s right into the mid-70s—from a California commune and a hideout in Big Sky Country to Kurdistan and the Cradle of Civilization. But vagabonding has its challenges. Tapped out, I found a new higher calling: College on the GI Bill. Graduated with honors in less than three years. A job with Ernst and Young. Started a family. Became a CFO. Always restless, though, my annual vacations took me more and more to the developing world. But that was never enough. Then in a spring awakening, a window yawned: The kids were off to college. I had money in the bank. My duffel bag was full of longings; a cedar trunk awaited more memories. Resurrected and reconstituted, I shucked the corporate pretense and flew the coop, a one-way ticket to ramble…”

Phil Karber becomes lunch for a brown bear

Phil Karber is an award-winning travel writer, whose passion to see the world and experience other cultures began as a young man in Southeast Asia where he was stationed for two years during the Vietnam War. After a successful career in the energy sector in the United States, in the mid-nineties Karber married Joellen Lambiotte, who works in global health, and joined her in Nairobi, Kenya. It was there that he began his first book, Yak Pizza to Go, a compilation of travel stories which originated from emails sent to friends and which was partly self-published by Athena (2001). From their base in Hanoi, Vietnam and Bangkok, Thailand, Karber wrote The Indochina Chronicles: Travels in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam (Marshall Cavendish 2005), which won the 2006 Lowell Thomas bronze award for Travel Book of the Year (judged by the Missouri School of Journalism). His third book, Fear and Faith in Paradise, Travels in the Middle East (Rowman and Littlefield 2012), reflects Karber’s extensive travel in the Muslim world. He moves seamlessly between past and present to skillfully develop two overarching themes: America’s footprint in the Middle East; and how fear is used as a cudgel by the current monotheistic leaderships (Christian, Muslim or Jewish) to invoke their own narrative of paradise, too often in repeated conflicts.

Phil Karber’s newest manuscript, Postmarks from a Political Traveler, is a collection of four travel essays, written in stages over the last decade. The book confronts the topical issues of roots and racism, polar bears as the canaries in the coalmine for climate change, anti-Americanism experiences from over a decade of living abroad and the war in Afghanistan and its effects on women and daily life. It is due for publication by Paradigm Publishers in Fall 2014.

As a fifth generation native of Arkansas, Karber was greatly influenced by coming of age amid the social injustices of the Jim Crow South. He is devoted to fighting world hunger, poverty and disease through writing and has traveled to over 130 countries, the overwhelming majority in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, to gather and recount the stories.