Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Strange Places, Questionable People

This is one of my favourite books. The author is John Simpson, the World Affairs Editor for the BBC. Strictly speaking this is not a travel book, but a loose autobiography. However, I would defy anyone to say that the story he tells would not be relevant for any traveller.

It's not so much that he tells you how he got from A to B, or how he negotiated through a difficult situation, but more to do with the humanity behind his travels. He is very, very good at seeing the strengths and weaknesses of people and of himself. He has seen some appalling things, but conversely, he tells his stories with a humour that is compelling. He can also be very funny.

Most of the book relates to his life and his time as a reporter for the BBC. On one of his early assignments he was punched in the stomach by the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. He later travelled on the same plane as Ayatollah Khomeini when he returned to Iran, he witnessed the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, the fall of the Berlin wall, and the release of Nelson Mandela.

John Simpson has been at many of the most significant events of the last 40 years reporting for us. Apart from being a very good reporter, he is a damn good writer as well. If you wish, you can get the book from or


At 10:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your review. I will have to put it on my "To Read" list.
I love travel writing, too. I went to school with Paul Theroux's brother, so I have always read Paul's books. I like his travel books best. Have you ever read any of his?

At 11:50 pm, Blogger Anthony said...

Thanks Elle,

Paul Theroux - the travel writer of travel writers! I have read I think, all his travel books. He is, one of my favourite travel writers as well. Wasn't too keen on his short stories though!

I will no doubt have a go at reviewing those as well sometime!

Anyway thanks for commenting. Maybe I will hear from you again!


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