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Editorial Reviews

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.

Publisher's Summary

Simon Winchester, struck by a sudden need to discover exactly what was left of the British Empire, set out across the globe to visit the far-flung islands that are all that remains of what once made Britain great. He traveled 100,000 miles back and forth, from Antarctica to the Caribbean, from the Mediterranean to the Far East, to capture a last glint of imperial glory.

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.

Critic Reviews

"Funny, masterly, fine....Superbly written." (The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Nice Travelogue

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 03-21-09

colorful stories about distant rocks

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Manny K
  • Laguna Hills, CA United States
  • 06-23-16

I wish it was longer!

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Alison
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 11-17-13

Lost Places

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Arthor
  • Cambridge, MA United States
  • 07-05-13

Always worthwhile

Any additional comments?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Darcy
  • Blacksburg, VA, USA
  • 06-19-10

I'd still listen to anything he's written

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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too short. should of been unabridged!

abridgement is a crime. especially for this author. I felt robbed. I want the whole book. Why was the audio book abridged?!

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Another great story

The only problem with books by Simon Winchester is that you literally can't put them down. Somehow he manages to draw you in and make you feel as if you were there with him