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Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe Hardcover – February, 1992

346 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After 20 years as a London-based reporter, American journalist Bryson ( The Mother Tongue ) set out to retrace a youthful European backpacking trip, from arctic Norway's northern lights to romantic Capri and the "collective delirium" of Istanbul. Descriptions of historic and artistic sights in the Continent's capitals are cursory; Bryson prefers lesser-known locales, whose peculiar flavor he skillfully conveys in anecdotes that don't scant the seamy side and often portray eccentric characters encountered during untoward adventures of the road. He enlivens the narrative with keen, sometimes acerbic observations of national quirks like the timed light switches in French hallways, but tends to strive too hard for comic effects, some in dubious taste. He also joins other travelers in deploring the growing hordes of peddlers who overrun major tourist meccas.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Bryson, a baby boomer, retraces his journeys through Europe in 1972 and 1973, when he and an Iowa high school buddy backpacked through the continent's major capitals and cities. In this account, Bryson revisits many of those places, and his tales about the changes in the sites--and within himself--are fascinating and often hilarious. The interests of Bryson and his unforgettable buddy, Stephen Katz, were quite different almost 20 years ago; they were in a constant search for beer and women and their favorite and least favorite places were judged accordingly. His interests on this latest trip are a bit more sophisticated. Bryson blends the accounts of the two journeys, offering insight into the various countries as well as his own life. This book is fun for travelers or armchair travelers, especially for anyone who journeyed through Europe in the hippie days of the early 1970s.
- Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svces., Wondervu, Col.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (February 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688103111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688103118
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (346 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa. For twenty years he lived in England, where he worked for the Times and the Independent, and wrote for most major British and American publications. His books include travel memoirs (Neither Here Nor There; The Lost Continent; Notes from a Small Island) and books on language (The Mother Tongue; Made in America). His account of his attempts to walk the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods, was a huge New York Times bestseller. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his wife and his four children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

249 of 264 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's interesting to read through the reviews for this book: most of those praising the book either come from Europeans, or else mention "Neither Here Nor There" resonating with their memories of travelling in Europe. The negative reviews all chastise Bryson for being too superficial, or shallow, or racist, or for not 'interacting' properly with the people he meets. What's particularly strange is the number of reviews that praise Bryson's other books, then say this one is not up to his standard.
Well, to those who fail to catch the humor here: book a flight to Europe, and see for yourselves. Europeans aren't somehow beyond the possibility of being unintentionally funny, and Bryson is not being an 'ugly American' for pointing out their foibles in very funny ways--witness, for example, his devastatingly funny transliteration of Dutch conversation, or his adventures getting travellers' checks replaced after they've been stolen by a Gypsy girl in Italy.
Bryson is also honest. He tells you what he likes, and what he doesn't, and, far from being xenophobic or parochial, he's perfectly willing to change his mind when a place he visits either exceeds or falls short of his expectations. He lavishes praise on the most unlikely of destinations, and avoids the fawning tones of many travel writers who feel somehow obligated to adore every place they visit, especially the most famous ones. All real travellers are familiar with this phenomenon: the most intense joys of travel are most likely to be experienced in the least obvious places, and often at the most inopportune times.
Finally, Bryson is simply funny, and this book is too. I hope he comes to Asia next.
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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
I believe there are more than enough reviews here to decifer whether or not you plan to read this charming, witty and candid book. However, as an Australian raised in both Europe and America, I must heed a warning to those of you who read the negative reviews by Europeans and Asians. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM!! They obviously lack a sense of humour and the ability to laugh at themselves (unlike Bryson). Bryson can be provincial at times, but he is so charming indeed! One who has traveled for days in a foreign land can understand his exhaustion and frustration and will howl with laughter.
Yes, Bryson at times can be brutally honest with his opinion of foreign countries and their inhabitants and culture, but they are HIS OPINIONS and they are frankly FUNNY and quite observant. I suppose those who take offense to his opinions neglected to understand that Bryson is a brazen self critic and will unabashedly admit to his lack of sophistication due to his stereotypical midwestern American upbringing. Please take no notice to the malevolence of the quazi-sensitive and humourless French and Germans who negatively reviewed this charming and engaging work.
Give the man a break and give this book a READ...Unless you possess absolutely no sense of humour, you will find it quite enjoyable!
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Martina Michelic on November 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
In his book "Neither here nor there" Bill Bryson writes about the experiences he made when he was travelling through nearly the whole of Europe, fluent in only one language (which is English).
He starts in Hammerfest, Norway (as far north as you can get in the world by public means of transport, he says), goes to Paris, Brussels, Belgium, Aachen and Cologne in Germany, then on to Amsterdam, Hamburg in Germany again, Copenhagen in Denmark, then onto Sweden (Gothenburg and Stockholm), then down to Rome, then to southern Italy (Naples, Capri and Sorrento), up to the top (Milan, Como), through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Yugoslavia, Sofia in Bulgaria, and finally Istanbul.
As you can see, by reading this book you'll learn a lot about European countries with their different languages, customs, habits and ways of life. But this isn't one of those boring highbrow books, that you can't read without falling asleep - no! - once you start reading you can't stop. Bryson has a unique brand of humour that I personally like very much. He is able to crack jokes about any situation, no matter how hopelessly and unpleasing they might have been.
Especially as an European citizen you'll have a lot of fun because you recognize all the stereotypes that you know either from telling or personal experience. And be prepared for some nasty jokes about your compatriots!
All in all I can highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to get to know European countries in an amusing and interesting way.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Bill Bryson really made it big in England after the release of 'Notes from a Small Island', which, however isn't his best book. His best would be either 'The Lost Continent' or this book 'Neither Here Nor There'. I very rarely laugh out loud at TV shows or books. Only 'Frasier' on TV and Bill Bryson in books have this capacity to make me laugh relentlessly. 'Neither here Nor There' is Bryson's story of the reenactment of his student-day travels through Europe some twenty years later. He tries to visit all the places that he visited with Katz (yup, he appears in 'Walk in the Woods' too) in the seventies, as well as Norway to see the northern lights. Bryson's descriptions of situations are hilarious, primarily because he is just a normal guy and you can imagine yourself in the same situation, especially if you have visited any of the countries he visits, but even if you haven't, it is still a delight to read. Another great thing about Bill Bryson is that he is not afraid to be politically incorrect, calling France's population 'Insufferably French' to give just one example. He is also happy to insult a place if he feels it deserves it, something which other travel writers can seem reluctant to do. He of course balances out these criticisms with his entusiasm for so many places and you also learn many interesting facts from his stories such as Liechtenstein is the world's largest producer of sausage skins and dentures. Hands up who knew that!!! I can't even begin to do this book justice in my review, all I can say is buy Bill Bryson's books and I promise you will not be dissppointed, they are all a joy to read. Bill seems a lovely guy and, in his words, not mine, 'If he wishes to acknowledge this unsolicited endorsement with a set of luggage or a skiing holiday in the Rockies, let the record show that I am ready to accept it'!!!
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