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Pillars of Hercules Paperback – Oct 29 1996

4.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (Oct. 29 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449910857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449910856
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.8 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #207,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Paul Theroux has developed one of travel writing's most identifiable styles: always the foreigner, always a bit apart, slightly irascible, but perfectly observant. At last he has ventured to one of the most traveled places on earth, and returned with his most exhilarating, revealing, and eloquent travel book. In this modern version of the Grand Tour, Theroux sets off from Gibraltar, one of the fabled Pillars of Hercules, on a glorious journey around the shores of the Mediterranean. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The difference between a tourist and a traveler, says Theroux, is that the tourist knows where he's going. Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar), a traveler, as half a dozen of his popular books have attested, had no design for this adventure, no advance ticketing nor any commitment to stay or go anywhere. His only aim was to explore the Mediterranean coast without resort to airplanes. As a result, he found himself in unfamiliar villages on untraveled roads, acquired unexpected companions and slept in an assortment of inns, from fleabags to Hilton hotels, in Gibraltar Spain, the Riviera, Croatia, Sardinia, Greece, Albania, Morocco, the Levant and Israel. His pictures, like those of a wanderer with a sharp eye and an informed intelligence, though a large measure of condescension as well, are fresh even when he lands in well-reported places. Although most of his informants are casually met, now and then he interviews the famous, among them Paul Bowles in Morocco, Naguib Mahfouz in Egypt. This is a Mediterranean coast few know, as exotic and tumultuous now as throughout history.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When others have criticized Theroux's travelogues for being too narrowly focused and written is a somewhat 'grumpy' manner, I have always responded by saying that none of his travel books have ever claimed to be comprehensive historical or sociological overviews of the places he visits but are simply a record of one man's impressions and experiences. In this book, however, I am less inclined to be so charitable. It appears to me that Theroux has been somewhat stung by those reviews accusing him of being 'grumpy' and, instead of making an effort to counter the charges, has defiantly decided to show his readers just how miserable and unsocial he can be. In one place, he becomes irritated with a man he meets on a ship and then, for some unaccountable motive, reveals a confidence to the man's wife with no other effect than to disconcert the man and, very nastily and gratuitously, upset the woman. Ultimately, the whole of the book is so colored by Theroux's determined effort to make himself as disagreeable as possible that I really could not enjoy it as I do most of his other books.
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Format: Paperback
"It's all in your head"? Not at all. At least for Paul it isn't.
I'll explain myself. Well, The Pillars of Hercules is a book Paul wrote on his travels all over the Mediterranean. For people who didn't read other travel books by this wonderful writer let me tell you that he writes what he sees not about what he liked before he even went to one of his dream places. This particular book is amazing and I am only halfway through it and I learned heaps, and I could almost say that I've seen a lot too because the writing is so wonderful, so vivid. It just makes me feel that I am on vacation.
Anyways, if you decide to "Waste some of your time" on a book chose this one - I swear you wont be dissapointed at all. Apart from beautifully described places Paul visited you'll get to know about so many nations histories,culture,customs,stupidities etc.
Highly Recommended. Go PAUL you're even better than Bill Bryson. Hope you'll write about Kosova too someday. You would absolutely like it there. Warm Hospitality and an Enormous Love is what you'll find there especially if you're an American.
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Format: Paperback
Theroux travel books make good reading but don't look to this guy for an upbeat and overwhelmingly positive outlook on the places, the people, and circumstances that he run into during his expeditions!
Some memorable parts: detailed descriptions of Corsica, the good life in Italy versus its neighbors across the Adriatic, an unexpectedly beautiful part of the Albanian coast as well as in Syria, descriptions of children who are scarred by war, making friends in the Turkish ship from Istanbul to Alexandria and Israel, his evening arrival in Istanbul, his praise of high culture and good cuisine in Israel, recalling Durrell's version of Alexandria and Theroux's own experience (which makes some of the best reading in this book), his encounter with Paul Bowles in Tangier, a near brush with maritime disaster from a storm----I can go on and on.
Disappointments include brief stops in famous places like Venice, a dislike for Menton, and a negative view of the war-torn Dalmatian coast (no positive description whatsoever of this famous coast). A thoroughly negative perspective on Albania can be disturbing but is nonetheless expected from Theroux.
Overall, Theroux is one to read when you have the feeling that you may never get to go to some of these places and have chance encounters with interesting lives. In short, a good dose of vicarious travel experiences!
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Format: Paperback
Way back in the sixties I watched some friends hit the hipster trail from Paris to Tangiers. They stopped in Ibitha (pronounced with a Castillian lisp) where they slept on the beach, adopted names like Pedro and peppered their speech with 'manana' and 'luego, baby.' Thanks to Paul Theroux I am no longer envious of my beret wearing pals. Embarking on an astonishingly ambitious journey around the entire shoreline of the Mediterranean he follows in the footsteps of Caesar and Alexander. I prefer to break out an atlas than break a sweat so this book was perfect.
Theroux acknowledges that most travel is arduous and sometimes dangerous but he succeeds in his quest to circumnavigate the old cradle of civilization. He winds his way through Spain, France and Italy managing to avoid the odious tourist industry by taking the train or using ferries, staying in no-star hotels. In these modest surroundings he manages to meet some real people. Except for the Spanish who are too embarrassed to talk about the past (Franco) and Albanians still paranoid about Big Brother he is rewarded with an abundance of entertaining material as he casually interviews folks in their own language. The coast of Yugoslavia has been balkanized with warring factions to the point where genocide is a way of life. The harrowing Third World atmosphere takes such a toll he decides to go home and work in his garden.
This intermission gives the reader a respite which extends to the next leg of his trip by his acceptance of a free ride on a luxury liner. Bountiful buffets, avuncular passengers and a sumptuous suite of his own. He has trouble tearing himself away from the sedutive 'Seabourne Spirit' but eventually resumes his no-frills method of travel. At every opportunity he evokes classical history and literature.
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