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54-Year Old Historian Cycles Around the World
on 17 November 2002
This was an inspirational book, written by a historian. I enjoyed the book.
However, I was disappointed with the book in one way. The author speaks mainly as a historian, taking the reader on a historical tour of all of the places she visted on her bike. Even by the end of the book, we know very little about the author herself, or her personal feelings. There are several very poor, black-and-white photos of places she visited, but there is not even one photo of her! I would have preferred one photo of her, with her bicycle, anywhere, than all of the other photos she included in the book. I would also have liked her to share more of her personal life with the reader, which she seems to have purposely avoided (In the chapter where she travels through the American Midwest, she comments that Americans seem to discuss their personal problems even with strangers, but indicates that she feels that is an oddity. I found that an interesting comment on American culture, and probably very true, when compared with other cultures, especially the British culture.)
This one issue aside, I found the book inspiring, for a woman of her age, and poor physical condition (at the outset) to have cycled around the world. I read with great interest her descriptions of the people's behavior (both toward her and toward each other) in various places. I was quite surprised by her descriptions of Pakistanis, Indians, and various Americans (as an American myself). I was both surprised and not surprised by her travels across America--it being the hardest place because of the vast, empty distances (particularly in the West).
Disappointingly, the author shared only a few minor details of her life. I am quite a history buff myself, but this book rather overdosed on history. Nevertheless, I did pick up a few interesting historical tidbits. For example, I found it quite interesting that her cycling through Italy was far easier than many other places (in spite of the mountains) because the Romans constructed their roads in such a way as to try to never give up height before reaching the highest point. Therefore, the route gradually climbed, whereas in newer areas (such as America), modern roads repeatedly climb and fall, making it much harder on a cyclist.