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If you've not read Innocents Abroad, this is a great way to experience it. Many don't read this and it is one of Twain's hidden gems. It is Twain at his best, "Is he dead?" The first time I read it, it made me laugh out loud in public places. If you have travelled at all you will enjoy it. If you travelled to these places you'll get an extra bang out of it. Human nature is timeless and there is no better proof of it than the observations of a master. He gives the straight dope on traveling in Holy Land.
For a long time the only version of "Innocents Abroad," was narrated by Flo Gipson. The first time I heard it, I thought it was horrible. But I've listened to it more than once, it makes great bed-time listening. I downloaded this version because it was narrated by a man, but I have to say, I think Flo Gipson captured Twain's irreverent tone better than Grover Gardner. Grover Gardner has a more pleasing sounding voice than Flo, though. So it's a toss-up.
28 of 29 people found this review helpful
The reason is simple enough. It records one of the earliest purpose-planned group tours in all human history. Twains group left the States on the sidewheeler steam ship Quaker City in 1867 and logged about 20,O00 miles to the Eastern mediteranean and back. The ship was built at the beginning of the civil war and had one of the most active service lives of any naval blockaded ship of the era before it was sold off. Cruise speedx12 knots.
This was in the tradition of The Grand Tour but with mature people and far more extesive itinerary. And often a seriously difficult one as well. More then one 13 hour horse ride in hot deserts. I was impressed. All this took place at the very beginning of what I would call the modern era of telegraph and railroad infastructure and about ten years before Custers Last Stand.
I especially enjoyed the pyramid tours because my experience with the locals in 1983 was depressingly familiar. However, Twains description of the climb to The Kings Chamber left me confusd. He descrbed it as a narrow dark passage way! The grand gallery is one of the most dumbfoundingly jaw drpping sights on the planet! Twain complains of the inferior tallow candles used both at the hotel and the during the assent so he his group must have been very poorly lit.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
A peculiar fact about the most famous humourist of the 19th century is that of all his numerous works, it was the serious and even sentimental "Joan of Arc" that he was most proud of. This dichotomy between the merciless satirist and a man capable of deep empathy and enraged by social injustices is nowhere as apparent as in this travelogue.
Published in 1869, this book witnessed the period immediately succeeding one of the most tumultuous periods in European social history and Twain pulls no punches from his perspective of a more politically advanced and enlightened American citizen. He gets our laughs by ridiculing everything from great art ("some of us said that certain of the great works of the old masters were glorious creations of genius - we found it out in the guide-book, though we got hold of the wrong picture sometimes") to the trade in relics (of the Holy Cross: "I would not like to be positive, but I think we have seen as much as a keg of these nails"), but then immediately offers a moving description of the abjectly poor Italian masses, forced to beg in the streets.while the Roman church hoards gold and flogs holy trinkets to tourists. This work is as much a short introduction to the 19th century European politics as it is a hilarious road trip through the Old World.
Gardner's narration is wonderfully suited to Twain's mix of laughs and poignancy. His comic timing and delivery are impeccable - sometimes his narration is so dry, that you have to rewind to make sure that he really just said what you think he did. Gardner appreciates that this is Twain's gig and the text is strong enough to stand on its own without any 'nudge, nudge' encouragements from the narrator, so the laughs remain unexpected and fresh and you don't see many of them coming even after you have listened to most of the book.
Word of advice - be careful about listening to this on public transport if you have a tendency to snort.
What did you like most about The Innocents Abroad?
If you've ever been to any of these cities, try some mental compare and contrasting. It's interesting to note how much/little changes.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Mark. He's pretty much the only constant character.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
I loved most of the bits in the holy land.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
There and back again
Any additional comments?
He's incredibly sarcastic (I think?) about everywhere. Be warned if you hate sarcasm.