Blue River, Black Sea
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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2010
Reading this book gave me an excellent sense of the countries and people along the Danube, from its source to the Black Sea. It is written with wit and insight, and I found it difficult to put down the book once I got started.

I have worked my way through Claudio Magris book "Danube", and I still consider it essential reading, but it was a struggle to stay interested in all of the interesting people and their works who lived along the river. Here is how Andrew Eames describes Claudio Magris' work.

"The great man exercised his synapses through four hundred pages, displaying immense erudition, leaping between intellectual rooftops and poking his nose down the chimney stacks of downriver nations like a PhD chimney sweep from Mary Poppins."

This sums up my impression of Claudio Magris' book far better than anything I could have written, and is an excellent example of Andrew Eames' writing style.

I'm also familiar with stretches of the Danube and its people through parts of Germany and Austria. I've found that Eames captures my impressions precisely with a few well chosen words. I don't know anything about people and places further down the river, but I can only surmise that Eames' observations are as accurate downstream as they were upstream. His book certainly entertained me and inspired me. I now want to grab a bike or boat, or put on a pair of hiking boots to see the country for myself.

If you've been dreaming of a similar journey down the Danube, as I have, or if you are merely interested in the landscape and its people, as well as their histories, along the entire length of the Danube, this is by far the best book on the subject. Do yourself a favor and read it.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2011
Part of me liked this book a lot. I have traveled to most of the places Eames visited, some more than once. He makes it clear, however, that older American travelers like me are unworthy of anything but contempt. That is abundantly clear in this work. So that view of his tinged my experience as I read.

His insights were intriguing, especially as he sketched out for readers the histories of the European dynasties that shaped the region. I found the language a bit florid and tending toward the hyperbolic. And there was a lot of snark.

Yes, this was actually two trips as, at one point, the rigors of travel left Eames needing a trip home to recharge his emotional and physical batteries. That was a strange and abrupt break in the narrative. After the break he circles back to some areas he had already more or less covered. That can be confusing.

Overall, an okay experience. Left me wanting to check out the original works on which he based his itinerary, and I would love to see Transylvania now -- which was the one area he visited which we have missed thus far.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2011
I read both Blue River, Black Sea and the recommended Danube while prepping for a river boat cruise through Germany and into Budapest. I highly recommend Blue River Black Sea as an easy read and a good companion book. I am an avid nonfiction history reader and liked Danube as well for the insight it afforded to a part of Europe and its history with which I am not too familiar. Blue River is more enjoyable as well as informative and if you are headed in that direction for business or holiday, I recommend it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2013
Eames travels along and on the Danube from start (Germany's Black Forest) to end (the Black Sea off Rumania.) American tourists on a Danube River cruise will get so much more good info and background atmosphere from this book than they can from thier cruise ship program directors (as helpful as they usually are.) Most of his narrative is based on first-person accounts of men and women who lived in each city, town or country house, mostly (not always) escaped Communism, and returned in the 1990's. Compared to Claudio Magris' "Danube" from 1986, Eames has written the better book by far. Read Magris if you are a serious student of German literature and are able to compare Eastern Europe under communism with today's mixed economies, governments and post-Yugoslavia national identities. And if you are not on or planning a cruise on the Danube. I own both books. I'm stuck on p. 147 in Magris, but finished Eames while cruising the Danube where it serves as the border between Bulgaria and Rumania. Read this book if... William Larson
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2012
This is my third book by this author and the geographical region of this book has certain echoes of his book on the famous Orient Express; "The 8:55 to Baghdad". This time however the author is motivated to follow some of the route of the famous writer, Patrick Leigh Fermor, who went this way in the 1930s and wrote the classic works of "A Time of Gifts" and "Between the Woods and the Water" with a promised third and concluding volume to be published posthumously in 2013. Inspired by these works Eames decides to travel and narrate a trip from Germany through the "Iron Gates" to Instanbul, following - indeed partly traveling on - the "blue" Danube River.

It is 70 odd years since the famous "Paddy" journeyed through these same lands and, of course, much has been changed by World Wars, communist domination and neglect and viscous ethnic cleansing and pogroms, but Eames still discovers treasures and even peoples from those times. The author even manages to find his own aristocrats to welcome and awe him, staying in castles and Hofs with surviving descendants of fabled families of the Austrian Holy Empire.

But it is with his own generation that he most relates, the Serbian peasants and the gloriously mixed crews of the working Danube fleets as he walks, trains, drives and floats to his successful conclusion, the Black Sea.

This gloriously satisfying read is one of the best travel
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2013
The author does a good job of writing about the history of the regions without getting bogged down in details, although he sounds a bit condescending at times. Do not expect a HOW TO travel book, it is'nt, but he did want me to continue my biketour past Vienna.
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on March 20, 2015
A witty summary of the author's personal trip from the beginning of the Danube to the Black Sea, where he traveled by bicycle, foot, barge, car, bus, etc. His observations of the people, history, and cultures are quite interesting. Not everything is cheery, especially in former Communist countries, but no doubt the assessments are true. Reminds me a bit of Mark Twain's travel stories. Although it isn't really a sightseeing guide, it should be helpful for my river cruise planned for later this year.
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on June 15, 2014
Andrew Eames takes an interesting journey through a beautiful and complex landscape and through sharing his experiences the reader learns heaps in a most disarming way-I was googling places and history to follow up many items of interest. An excellent read.
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on June 5, 2013
A light and highly entertaining romp through central Europe! It is is a good introduction to this diverse area with some good historical and cultural background.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2011
I was very disappointed to find this was a personal travelogue by a modern-day newspaper reporter. The history he includes varies between dry and opinionated. I found it very boring and only read about 25% of it before donating it to a local library. Very disappointed.
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