Friday, February 15, 2013


[From June 2009] I started by listening to the audiobook. In the intro to the audiobook, the author describes how he abridged the book by simply skipping whole chapters. He omitted Hong Kong, Bermuda, British West Indies and the Falklands. This of course, led me to the paperback to complete the missing chapters. I'm glad I read the extra chapters, but don't think I would have missed much if I hadn't. The Hong Kong chapter is the weakest, and the most irrelevant now that it has spent a decade in the PRC. The Bermuda chapter is a little better. The West Indies chapter has nuggets of interest, though would probably need some updating (such as a volcano on Montserrat). However, it quickly jumps from Island to Island so can be a little difficult to follow. The fact that he was in the Falklands as the war was breaking out makes that the most interesting of the omitted chapters in the audiobook.

As for the remainder of the audiobook, it is always nice when an author reads his own books, especially when he does it well like Simon Winchester. He has 'updated' it, primarily by reminding us that these exploits did take place a few decades ago. (I also found it useful to read the updated introduction after completing the book, helping to remind myself that these are 25 year old exploits.) The book reads as part travelogue, part history. The journey gets equal weight with the destination. I found myself with a strong interest in learning more about these places that had been nothing more than dots on the map.

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