“book club...haven't really finished this book but have it on kindle so will definitely go back and do so. Might even reread sections as I visit them. Loved this book; a little wordy as all these older books are but very funny and insightful. Fun and sometimes shocking to see how beliefs and...”see full review » see other reviews »
“book club...haven't really finished this book but have it on kindle so will definitely go back and do so. Might even reread sections as I visit them. Loved this book; a little wordy as all these older books are but very funny and insightful. Fun and sometimes shocking to see how beliefs and values have changed over the years. Also interesting to see how the countries visited have moved ahead in the last 150 years.”Helen D wrote this review Friday, October 11, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“For me it was a facinating book to read. I stumbled upon the part in which Twain reaches the Holy Land. I wouldn't recommend the whole book as I have only read this subset. This part in itself gave an interesting view on how was the land of Israel circa 1860, with a dose of hisotry and witty comments on Holy places and some of the questionable habits and practices of pilgrims, tour guides etc.”Guy Nachimson wrote this review Thursday, April 11, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The New Pilgrims' Progress”Andrea D wrote this review Wednesday, December 5, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“One of my favorite travel books of all time, told by Mark Twain in the late 1800's.”Kathy G wrote this review Thursday, November 1, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Mark Twain's Grand European and Holy Land Tour is surely the reason to this day, over hundred years later, the tour industry overseas remains traumatized by American tourists nor savvy to American humor ... the kind of humor only a ship-load of passengers with way too much time crammed together and too many parrot-guides from Egypt to Venice to torment.
Absolutely ruthless in their evisceration of European conceits, Twain's increasingly bored cruise-mates entertained themselves by pulling the legs of the hapless locals like the "Turtle-Man" and "Honey-Boo-Boo" hit Europe, demanding fresh corpses instead of dried mummies, interrupting tour guides in their memorized monologues so they had to start, like rebooted tape recorders, at the beginning every time.
Twain simply proved people are people everywhere, great works always are side by side with the cheesiest tourist gimmicks, which were already well-established 120 years ago.”
“This is what a travel book should be. Twain tells the truth with his droll humor and tongue-in-cheek style. Made me laugh out loud. He spares no one. This is his travels in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Funny! ”Sheila G wrote this review Saturday, January 21, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is one of those books which I think time has not been kind to. All of the information was interesting, the little stories were a mixture of merely amusing, hysterically funny, and over-the-top annoying, and then there were the chapters which were absolutely fabulous--so well written and beautiful that I begged for an entire book of that kind of writing.
Part of the problem here is that the world has become so politically correct that all the members of my book club agreed that we cringed at the frequent places where Twain was unkind, cruel, and usually very, very wrong about the people in the area. The Portugese, Carthegenians, and Syrians are only a few which he castigated. As a group we agreed that Twain's opinions were probably the mainstream opinions of most Americans of the time.
There are many worthwhile chapters in the book, but it should be read with the knowledge that a 19th Century man is writing it to a 21st Century audience. ”
“Most of Twain's work deserves a solid five stars, but this one is only flawed by comparison. Or perhaps by the fact that I don't normally care for travel books at all. Or maybe it's just too long.
In 1867, Mark Twain joined an "Excursion to the Holy Land, Egypt, the Crimea, Greece, and Intermediate Points of Interest" starting from Brooklyn on February first. There was a committee to select the participants, and the assurance that only proper ladies and gentlemen would be included. One has to wonder how Twain got through the selection process, but he did.
Twain's wry humor is put to good use describing the people, places and activities of the voyage, and I will not attempt to convey them. Of course, we have to keep in mind how very long ago this all was. Travel was very time-consuming, for one thing, and although the steamship "Quaker City" was well appointed and became a sort of home away from home, Twain and many of the other passengers went off on expeditions on trains, mules, horses, donkeys and even on foot.
Foreign countries really were foreign in those days, with vastly different people and customs, food and accommodations for travelers. And beggars. Twain describes the beggars of all the places they visited, and not very kindly. He has some rather nasty things to say about the natives in various places, but one cannot tell when he is being sarcastic and when sincere.
In the case of churches and relics and holy places generally, he pretends great credulity. However, as the reader goes along, it soon becomes evident that he is being highly sarcastic. So when a sincere compliment gets through (about the monks who accommodate travelers in the Holy Land), you know he was quite impressed.
All in all, it's a pleasure to read, as we expect from Mark Twain, but not his best work.”
“The more I read, the more I love Mark Twain. He mixes truth, great story telling and a huge amount of humor to make a point.
Innocents Abroad is a travel diary of his trip through Europe and the Holy Land. Much humor, but also some very thoughtful insights about the world in the 1800s. Some take aways: Never get a shave in France, buy artwork in Italy, or take a horse across the desert. It was a little sad to realize that world no longer exists. It would not be possible to take that trip today and that is a shame.”
“The Innocents Abroad is a cynical, witty, over-long travelogue narrating Twain's grand tour around the Mediterranean in 1867. And much like his expedition, I found reading it to be something of a journey.
I, like he, started out with delight. Everything was fresh, the wit was sparkling, the adventure was new. The party of pilgrims found their way to Europe, visiting famous cities and experiencing the old world. And I, as a reader, got to experience some familiar locations through foreign eyes. It was a bit of a thrill to recognise places I've been through the observations of a traveller of 150 years ago. But as the pilgrims moved East they found disappointment.. things weren't as splendid in reality as in their imagination. And I, as a reader, became a little bored of the same old observations being repeated time and time again. Then the party reached the Holy Land. They found squalor and desolation. And I too felt that the end didn't live up to my expectations at the beginning. Finally they came home, and with a little perspective they could look back on their journey and recognise the true marvels. And I... well I've only just finished so the perspective will have to wait for later.
Twain's interest seems to fasten on the unfamiliar. I rather approved of his going to the Great Parisian Exhibition, and only having eyes for watching the tourists. The exhibition itself was less attractive than the people. He bores of Italian masterpieces, and doesn't fail to mention the fragments of the True Cross found in every Cathedral he visits. Half the ports are closed to the party due to fears of cholera, but he does get to meet the Emperor of Russia.
There's a mild patronisation for the unnecessarily exotic. Hired guides get called 'Ferguson' and any unpronounceable village is 'Jacksonville'. There are mocking references to the ridiculous traditions and folklore of the places visited, especially when they refer to characters and places treasured in childhood.
The only thing that really bothered me was the casual pillaging of archaeological sites in order to claim mementoes. Okay, Europeans have done that for centuries. But it's especially reprehensible to ransack history when the pilgrims will declare relics of any random stone if foiled in their attempts to access genuine sites. Okay, I know Twain was against that too, and he was satirising the gazillion crowns of thorns, nails from the true cross, shrouds, etc., that Christendom could boast. But it gives me something tangible to disapprove of.
I don't normally read travel writing. But of what I have read, this is one of the better examples. But I reckon trimming it of 100 or so pages would improve it.”