"The author's humorous style combined with his deep knowledge, with large quotations from Mark Twain, makes a most readable book. A travel book with a difference."
—Amazon customer review
In 1867 the Daily Alta California commissioned Mark Twain to cover the story of the world s first luxury cruise, a six-month round tour to the Holy Land from New York on board the Quaker City, an ex-Civil War Mississippi side-wheel paddle steamer. The captain, crew and passengers were highly respectable Presbyterian Christians on a mission; the Islamic Holy Land was under loosening Ottoman control. The interchangeable infidels and zealots saw Mark Twain as a distracting influence, and he saw them as wonderful source material–manna from heaven–for comments on the folly of the human condition. The resultant The Innocents Abroad was his bestselling book in his lifetime and is still regarded as a classic of travel writing and a masterpiece of satire on political and religious excess. Ian Strathcarron follows Mark Twain and his caravanserai as it sways across the Holy Land and the two writers contrasting adventures and observations are told in Innocence and War. Twain’s pilgrims landed in Beirut and went on to Baalbec and Damascus. They then headed south through the Golan Heights, the Galilee and Nazareth then finally on to Jerusalem, Jericho, the Dead Sea, Bethlehem and Jaffa. Strathcarron follows their exact route though the countries are now Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the West Bank–with diplomatic diversions by sea on the writer’s yacht Vasco da Gama, where needed. Together they meet the tribes and tribulations of the Holy Land, where the religious is political and the political is religious, where natural beauty meets man-made squalor, where hope and despair hang from the same tree and where trouble is always close at hand. Travel was troublesome then and it is troublesome now. Troublemakers and troubleshooters vie for supremacy. Both protagonists suffer for their troubles–and only sometimes laugh it off.
Lord Strathcarron is an author, publisher, mediator and counsellor who strays between Old Hampshire and the Mediterranean. More on: www.ianstrathcarron.com
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