Simon Winchester travels to the far reaches of the British Empire. Winchester reads his own sometimes oddball tales. He tells of a cricket match on St. Helena in which a fielder falls off the edge and thus is "retired, dead." On Ascension Island, an island so small it was considered a ship - the H. Ascension - any baby born was considered born at sea. Winchester's nicely modulated voice is perfect for narrating this history/travelogue. He is engaging while narrating the history and perpetually amused at the quirks of keeping the Empire alive no matter the discomfort. The production concludes with an interview in which Winchester discusses his delight at discovering that readers share his fascination with geology.
His adventures in these distant and forgotten ends of the earth make compelling, often funny listening and tell a story most of us had thought was over: a tale of the last outposts in Britain's imperial career and those who keep the flag flying.
©1985, 2003 Simon Winchester; (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
"Funny, masterly, fine....Superbly written." (The New York Times Book Review)
I've enjoyed many of Winchester's narrative histories (and am currently listenting to "A Crack at the Edge of the World"), but found this travelogue an equally diverting listen, if a little short on truly useful information, as I doubt I'll ever have the time or money to visit these remote remnants of the British Empire. My one regret is that the book is only available on audio in abridged format (the author explains why this choice was made and how he elected which chapters to eliminate). The narration is excellent.
Winchester does it again! He brings his colorful descriptions of the history and geology of Great Britain's distant appendages. Author's interview at the end of the book is extra special.
Musician, die hard atheist. Father of two. Photoshop hacker.
Well, I just adore Simon Winchester. This was, comparably speaking, lighter fare. None the less, engaging, informative and nicely written. I read Atlantic before this which is far more mind blowing but this was a nice sort of coda to that.
Well, this is an earlier work, and every successful author appears to dig up some early work of lesser quality. Nevertheless, there were some interesting passages in his turn 'round the remains of the British empire. Still, I wish that he had gone to Ascension Island.
My first exposure to Simon Winchester and I look forward to much more. He mentions in the introduction that he was required to edit the audio version, which is unfortunate as I would have liked to hear more. Wonderful blend of interesting facts, anecdote, and biting political commentary.
I thought I would really enjoy this book, but ended up feeling rather sad in the end. The book is well written and well read, but incredibly disheartening. It seems Britain has managed to hold these leftovers of empire in a state of benevolent neglect which is shameful.
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