The journey that follows takes him through the world of historical re-enactment, sitting at the bare and grubby feet of retromaniacs who have seen their future in the past, and learning their singular ways.
Living on bramble leaves, Johnny cake, and porridge, Moore travels from the Iron Age to the Steam Age, sharing straw beds and daft hats with period obsessives driven by socio-historical curiosity, disillusionment with the pampered fecklessness of the modern world, or a simple nostalgia for campfires, flatulence, and brutality.
As a Roman legionary, Moore is put to the Gaulish sword 12 times a day for the entertainment of the Danish public; as master of a Tudor manor's domestic staff, he works his young charges to collapse, and serves up moat-drowned hare to the sneering gentry. He crosses the snake-happy Kentucky wilderness with a Vietnam veteran and his ox-drawn wagon, gets arrested as a Yankee spy in the Louisiana no man's land, and lets a party of taunting French schoolchildren have it with a medieval bazooka.
Along the way, he meets living historians for whom authenticity means pulling their own teeth out and dyeing outfits in urine, and those who stride back through time with a Nokia and a packet of fags stuffed down their codpiece.
©2008 Tim Moore; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
"Perhaps his funniest book...and possibly the best book ever completed by a man covered in congealed animal fat, sweat and cannon smoke." (Independent)
This would've made an okay magazine piece, or anthology entry, for one re-enactment experience, but I found the book boringly repetitive Added to that, I found Andrew Wincott's narration made Moore seem obnoxiously smug, rather than humorous.
I'm a fan of the author's previous work, but this one just didn't work out - wish I'd skipped it.
If you like Moore's other books, you'll like this. The humour is British (not the pseudo-british humour that passes for it in the USA), the narration is good and it is certainly not repetitive.
The jumps between ages/episodes in this book make it less cohesive than his one on the Tour de France. Some passages drag a little, but the examination of the historical re-enactment movement is frank and humorous without becoming knowing or cynical.
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