Book Reviews

To Samarkand with Baggie Bird by J. Edmund Latham

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List Price: £1.99

 

Kindle Edition: 335 Pages.

Published: 19 June 2012 by

ISBN:

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To Samarkand with Baggie Bird’ is the story of my solo journey along the Silk Road, the world-famous trade route which stretched from China to Europe. Along it travelled the riches of the East and the knowledge of the West in one of the world’s first information superhighways. Despite having no significant travel experience, being only 21, and having the considerable impairment of just having fallen in love, I decided that I should attempt to travel across some of the world’s harshest deserts, highest mountain ranges, and through countries which boast some of the most bizarre and repressive regimes on the planet. Could I even survive, mentally and physically? Would my long-suffering girlfriend tolerate my absence? And why, exactly, did I choose to travel with four small stuffed football mascots?

Reviews

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne

An intelligent and interesting travel tale

I have read a number of travel books about people following the ancient Silk Road through China, Eastern Europe and Asia - this book is as good as any of them.

It is the story of the author's travels, as a 21 year old man and a self proclaimed "history geek". What he does particularly well, and what makes this book engaging and worth reading, is to interweave the history of the area with the modern culture. The author obviously knows his stuff and I learned a lot about the area and its history and culture from this book. I also learned what life is like in these countries today from the point of view of the inhabitants as well as Western travellers.The historical information provided was interesting and well presented to be relevant to the location being visited at the time. Mixed with this was the story of the actual travelling and the people who were encountered along the way. The author then used the past and his own present experiences to draw some conclusions about the beliefs and attitudes of various cultures. All his comments were well thought through and evidenced and he obviously tried hard not to be judgemental. He did tell us slightly more than I would have liked about his girlfriend and relationship, but I particularly (and surprisingly) enjoyed how he linked a love for football into the descriptions of the cultures he visited.

I found this book to be very readable and interesting. Unlike so many self-published books the grammar and spelling were fine although I did wince at how many sentences began with "Mine and ...", "Me and ....", "Myself and ...", and "Him and ...". There were literally too many uses of the word "literally" and although I enjoyed the fact that the writer directly addressed the reader there were a few too many "Frankly"s and "To be honest"s. The fact that the writer was a young man came across from time to time in the use of four letter words in the narration - there weren't many of these but when they were used I found them jarring and felt that there were plenty of other ways to say the same thing without using obscenities - the author needs to remember that not all of his readers will be young men who regularly use these words in speech.

These stylistic issues were minor quirks, however, and didn't really take away from the entertainment value of the book as a whole. This is a good read and to be recommended for anyone who enjoys travel books with a firm grounding in history. Don't be put off by the football references - it is not a sport that I have any knowledge of myself but that made no difference to the understanding of the points the author was making.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review but I don't know the author and I was not asked, nor expected, to write anything other than my honest opinion - which this is. Had I paid for this book I would have felt that I had got value for money.

 
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