- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (1 December 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0330288261
- ISBN-13: 978-0330288262
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.8 x 19.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,88,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
On the Shores of the Mediterranean (Picador Books) Paperback – 1 Dec 1995
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The author provides in his books deep historic references to his wanderings, sprinkled with humor and, usually, some sparkling wit from his wife Wanda who often brings Eric back to earth with a thump that produces empathetic chuckles in this reader. Despite the book being dedicated to her, I missed Wanda in this book - perhaps as so much of this trip takes place in the rather anti-feminine Muslim world she is kept at a more discreet distance. In addition to rather too much repetition in some of the historic details - although often interesting on the North shore - there was for me, rather more about the North African cultures than I needed. It is a part of the world I personally never warmed to, and other than a moving tribute and personal return to the WWII graves of Tobruk, the author never engaged my sympathy for the peoples of Libya or Morocco. In fact only Paul Theroux (Pillars of Hercules) has managed to bring out some of the qualities of these peoples and cultures that I did remember with affection, but Eric and Wanda had to bypass two of the areas that I held in most regard as both Beirut and Algeria were, once again, in murderous turmoil. He does provide several fascinating details of the Christian slavery of this region - often forgotten in today's world - that continued up to the 1820's.
But it is in the European countries, particularly a brief visit to the previously Arabic regions of Spain, that the author really held my interest, despite his often turgid and over-crafted sentences, he communicates a sense of historic place very strongly. Of their own adopted region around their modest Tuscany villa there is a charming and engaging portrait.
As the author wittily remarks, the shores of this sea are densely populated with the history of many peoples - a cast of billions like a Cecil B de Mille 1930 production he warns! Overall then, this is a book that can be enjoyed on several levels and one that rewards the reader's perseverance in the more difficult passages, and certainly one that I will reread.