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Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire Paperback – June 15, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, Atlantic, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa. In 2006, Mr. Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He lives in western Massachusetts.

From AudioFile

Simon Winchester travels to the far reaches of the British Empire. Winchester reads his own sometimes oddball tales. He tells of a cricket match on St. Helena in which a fielder falls off the edge and thus is "retired, dead." On Ascension Island, an island so small it was considered a ship--the H.M.S. ASCENSION--any baby born was considered born at sea. Winchester's nicely modulated voice is perfect for reading this history/travelogue. He is engaging while narrating the history and perpetually amused at the quirks of keeping the Empire alive no matter the discomfort. The production concludes with an interview in which Winchester discusses his delight at discovering that readers share his fascination with geology. A.B. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (June 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060598611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060598617
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Winchester studied geology at Oxford and has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian, and National Geographic. Simon Winchester's many books include The Professor and the Madman ; The Map that Changed the World ; Krakatoa; and A Crack in the Edge of the World. Each of these have both been New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. Mr. Winchester was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by HM The Queen in 2006. He lives in Massachusetts and in the Western Isles of Scotland.

Customer Reviews

If you like history and travel literature, then this is the book for you.
Anjjjjj
Like all Winchester's books it is well written, with a lovely light touch that makes the read a pleasure.
Ian Mcdonnell
I like Winchester's writing for the most part but he has occasionally disappointed me.
C. J. Thompson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 1914, the globe was spanned by the British Empire, on which the sun truly never set. As a boy, I collected stamps, and I was in awe of the number of faraway and exotic places that featured the likeness of the British monarch on their issues. It was, perhaps, these colorful bits of paper, along with the tales of Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart, and King Arthur that engendered in me a lasting love for and fascination with Great Britain. I've visited the mother island on more than a dozen occasions; I long to be there now. Simon Winchester's OUTPOSTS took me in a different direction - outward to the last vestiges of Empire.

British Indian Ocean Territory, Tristan da Cunha, Gibraltar, Ascension Island, St. Helena, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, and the Pitcairn Islands. These, minus Hong Kong - OUTPOSTS was published in 1985 - are now all that are left of the once proud imperial possessions. Simon visited them over a three year period, except the inaccessible Pitcairn, and tells us about his odyssey in this sterling travel narrative.

Winchester, a Brit himself, is ambiguous about the Empire. On one hand, he apparently feels that the Crown's dominions, protectorates, trustee states, mandated territories and colonies were better left to go their separate ways, if only for the sake of political correctness. On the other hand, he maintains that, of all the European colonial empires, Britain's was the one administered with the greatest degree of good intentions. And, Simon isn't above becoming sentimental, as on Tristan da Cunha, a dependency of St.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you are interested in British colonies as they are today, now known as Overseas Territories or Dependencies, there is no better book than Outposts. I bought this while in Bermuda for beachreading, and blasted through it in 2 days. Winchester gives you a feel for the lives of the islanders, and just how much influence the British government has left over the way they govern and police themselves. Some of the "forgotten lands" he visited and discusses include St. Helena (of Napoleon fame), Tristan de Cunha (between Africa and South America), Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean), Gibraltar, Bermuda and all of the British West Indies. Humorous, insightful - just a great way to see and feel what remains of the Empire without actually going there if you can't afford it.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Gary M. Greenbaum on February 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Simon Winchester writes about his journeys to most of Britain's remaining overseas colonies, from Gibraltar to the Falklands to the military-dominated British Indian Ocean Territory.

The early chapters (his experiences being forced to journey from Spain to Gibraltar by way of Tangier, his attempted invasion of Diego Garcia in the B.I.O.T, his journey to Tristan da Cunha) are clearly the best. As for the Falklands chapter, it is interesting because he was on the islands at the time of the Argentine invasion, and I wish he had written some more about that. He also treks to Bermuda, St. Helena, Ascension, the Caymans, the Turks and Caicos, and the B.V.I., and makes them live for us, as well as Hong Kong.

Why Hong Kong? Wasn't that given back to China? Yes, in 1997, but these journeys by Mr. Winchester took place in the early 1980's. They are all rather interesting, but I would have hoped for an update in the new edition of this book (as well as a chapter on Pitcairn Island, which he had not been able to reach by the time Outposts was originally published, but subsequently reached). Instead, what we get is a new introduction, which does tell us of his exile from Tristan da Cunha (he isn't permitted to land there due to islanders' resentment over what he wrote) and brief updates on some of the other islands (such as the St. Helena islanders' successful quest for full British citizenship).

Recommended, but with the 20-plus years, getting a bit dated. Could use a good rewrite and updating.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on September 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
In the early years of his career as a journalist, Simon Winchester hatched the rather ambitious idea of touring the globe to visit the far-flung remains of the rapidly dwindling and little known remnants of the British Empire. Although the sun still does not set on what little remains of these imperial holdings, Winchester recognized that this was a tenuous political situation unlikely to last for too many more years. He felt that there was a moving, fascinating and important story to be told of these vastly separated, profoundly isolated and mostly forgotten specks of land that reflected on Britain's somewhat tarnished past glories and conquests.

I'll admit this is a personal opinion (and you may well disagree) but I'd suggest that any fool with sufficient motivation and desire can complete the research and develop the information necessary to write a non-fiction book. But it is only a very special and exceptionally talented author who can write non-fiction in such a fashion as to turn that book into a compelling page-turner that reads like a novel and holds a reader's interest with the grip of the most exciting thrillers. Like Bill Bryson or Canada's Pierre Berton and Ken McGoogan, Simon Winchester is one of those authors with the ability to vault over that rather daunting bar.

Blending history, geography, biology, geology, sociology, linguistics and anthropology into a positively delicious cocktail, Winchester tells us the stories of such little known imperial tidbits as Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, Pitcairn Island, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Ascension and BIOT (the British Indian Ocean Territory).
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