Rating: 3 out of 5
A solid, middle-of-the-road book here. Mr Palin rarely ventures into the unexpected or controversial, merely describing what he sees on a tour around the Pacific Rim. The most worthwhile part of this book was, by today, the option to compare the scenery of 1997 with that of today—as well as we know the world of today, that is.
I found Mr Palin’s style very mediocre. There are a few jokes, relatively rare and very cautious, as if to make sure that no one might think that this is a funny book. The Kamchatkan guide Igor’s (Ivan’s?) dialogue which takes up perhaps half a chapter resonated more with the witty discussion I would like than the factual descriptions of what this presenter saw. At the same time, there was no lewdness or Paul Theroux’s “focus on women and sex” as I’d describe that style.
Perhaps another worthy point in favour of this, and in keeping with trying to understand the world of ’97, is the way how the reader is also brought back to the technology of ’97. It’s almost inconceivable that the areas the author describes as ‘remote’ and ‘unconnected’ would be so now when cell phones are ubiquitous and interconnection is a state of being and not a watchword.
As much as I’ve decried the style above, there was a certain charm to some of the descriptions—and the Kamchatkan volcanoes that the author described flying over are still in my mind.