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The Last Pink Bits [Paperback]

Harry Ritchie
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Jan 1998
Harry Ritchie takes a trip around the vestiges of the British Empire - the last pink bits on the world map - belatedly attempting to answer the question asked by George V: How is the Empire?.


Product details

  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (15 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340666838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340666838
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 396,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Harry Ritchie is a former literary editor of the Sunday Times and is the author of a number of books including Success Stories, an analysis of the English literary scene of the 1950s, and The Last Pink Bits, a tour of Britain's remaining colonies. He was born in Kirkcaldy, was educated at Edinburgh University and Lincoln College, Oxford, and now lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The last Pink Bits by Harry Ritchie 20 Nov 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book. I found that despite the fact that Harry Ritchie had little time to spend in the various "pink bits" he did pass my personal test questions which are:-
1. Would I read it again?
2. Would I read any more books by the author?
3. Did it maintain my curiosity throughout the book?
4. Did the book make me smile?
5. Would I recommend the book to others?
The answer to all of the above was yes. I enjoyed reading about previously unheard of remains of the British Empire. The only down side was that Harry Ritchie had so little time to spend in the various places and I was left wanting more.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 13 Jun 2002
By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The trademark adage of the Victorian era proudly (and accurately) declared that the sun never set on the British Empire. Turn of the century maps designated British territory by using the color pink, and pink bits could indeed be found littered across the globe. However, given Britain's imperial decline and notable retreats from former prize possessions such as India and Hong Kong, at the start of the new millennium the adage is regarded (wistfully by some) as yet another testament to faded grandeur. It may strike readers as shocking therefore, to discover as Ritchie did, that Britain still has some sixteen dependencies, and that... wait for it... the sun still doesn't set on the British empire!
Intrigued by a list of these last remaining "pink bits", Ritchie sets out in this slim and compelling travelogue to asses the status of the empire by visiting a selection of them. Restricting himself to only inhabited territories, striking Pitcairn Island as being too inaccessible, and limiting himself to only one of the Caribbean territories, he sets out on a grand tour of Bermuda, Ascension Island, The Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, The Turks and Caicos Islands, Tristan da Cunha, and St. Helena. Each of the chapters contains a chatty pocket history of the territory along with an overview of the current political, social, and economic climate. Of course, woven amidst this information are Ritchie's own adventures amidst the natives, recounted in a amusing self-deprecating style reminiscent of Bill Bryson.
The chapter on Bermuda describes a lovely economic powerhouse beset with few social problems and a brilliant climate. It is essential readering for anyone planning to visit.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Last Pink Bits - or a few of them! 7 Oct 2006
Format:Paperback
I was very disappointed in this book. Having read Simon Winchester's 'Outposts', I was expecting something along the same lines, but perhaps more up to date.

Having visited many of the places which he does deal with, I would broadly agree with his observations, but why, for instance did he not spend more time on Ascension? Yes, it's small, and yes, there's not a lot to see, but if you're writing a book about the last outposts of Empire, it surely behoves the author to do proper research on all the places concerned. Why did he not visit (or barely mention) Montserrat, a British island which is now engulfed by volcanic lava, and from which many of the residents have now fled? What about the Cayman Islands, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands? No mention either of the British Indian Ocean Territories - difficult to visit because the US, who leases the islands, doesn't want people snooping around Diego Garcia, but Simon Winchester did at least visit them.

A timely update on these former Imperial outposts is long overdue. Anyone up for doing 'The Grand Tour?', and producing an interesting book about it?
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Tour Of The Last Red Outposts 4 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback
Famously the sun never set on the British Empire. Some wag said this is because God couldn't trust an Englishman in the dark. Alas, for reasons I will not go into here, Britain gave up its Empire in the early 20th. century and has declined as a world power. Nevertheless, British dependencies and overseas territories still exist, dotted around the globe. In 'The Last Pink Bits', Harry Ritchie recounts his visits to some of them. This is an interesting travelogue in which we learn about places - such as Ascension Island - not widely known about or understood, as well as places that are more familiar to the popular imagination such as the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, in part, but ultimately a bit sad. 19 July 1999
By A. Hickman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author takes a jaundiced look at the remnants of a once-great empire and finds little to celebrate. However, there are some great set-pieces along the way, including an hilarious description of a cruise-ship load of fat American tourists who are disgorged onto Bermuda and the author's Kafkaesque tour of Gibraltar, in which he meets himself coming and going. But the book is ultimately a bit sad, the reader being left with a sense that what remains of the empire is being neglected and even ignored by an otherwise distracted mother country.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 13 Jun 2002
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The trademark adage of the Victorian era proudly (and accurately) declared that the sun never set on the British Empire. Turn of the century maps designated British territory by using the color pink, and pink bits could indeed be found littered across the globe. However, given Britain's imperial decline and notable retreats from former prize possessions such as India and Hong Kong, at the start of the new millennium the adage is regarded (wistfully by some) as yet another testament to faded grandeur. It may strike readers as shocking therefore, to discover as Ritchie did, that Britain still has some sixteen dependencies, and that... wait for it... the sun still doesn't set on the British empire!
Intrigued by a list of these last remaining "pink bits", Ritchie sets out in this slim and compelling travelogue to asses the status of the empire by visiting a selection of them. Restricting himself to only inhabited territories, striking Pitcairn Island as being too inaccessible, and limiting himself to only one of the Caribbean territories, he sets out on a grand tour of Bermuda, Ascension Island, The Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, The Turks and Caicos Islands, Tristan da Cunha, and St. Helena. Each of the chapters contains a chatty pocket history of the territory along with an overview of the current political, social, and economic climate. Of course, woven amidst this information are Ritchie's own adventures amidst the natives, recounted in a amusing self-deprecating style reminiscent of Bill Bryson.
The chapter on Bermuda describes a lovely economic powerhouse beset with few social problems and a brilliant climate. It is essential readering for anyone planning to visit. Ascension Island gets short treatment as it is essentially a 35 square mile airbase, famous for about two seconds as a staging area during the Falklands War. Still, Ritchie manages to wring some humor out of the military types surrounding him there. Then it's on to the Falklands, which gets the lengthiest and most complex treatment in the book. Although the war was about 15 years past at the time of Ritchie's writing, the islanders are still in recovery from it, especially psychologically. It's a war that tends to be thought of as a bit of a joke (much like the US invasion of Grenada), but anyone reading this chapter will quickly learn that even the most minor of conflicts with minimal casualties are traumatic in the extreme to the non-combantants in the area.
Next is a tour of Gibraltar, which reveals its population as wildly diverse and deeply segregated. Again, there is some very interesting history here, especially the tension between "the rock" and mainland Spain. In the Caribbean, Ritchie visits the beautiful and deserted backwater that is the Turks and Caicos Islands. Struggling to develop, the islands languish out of sight and out of mind but are the equal in natural splendor of any other part of the Caribbean The next stop is Tristan da Cunha, which is probably the most interesting of any of the places Ritche visits. Originally a naval base, its civilian population began in 1817 with a British couple who produced 16 children, and almost two centuries later, one finds there are only eight surnames in use. Ritchie's five hour visit unearths an incredible 300 person utopia�a cooperative, sustainable, and happy community. Interestingly, due to its homogeneity, Canadian researchers have found it a perfect place to try and isolate the gene responsible for asthma. It's a territory that begs for further study.
Finally, Ritchie stops at St. Helena�the famous prison island of Napoleon. Here is perhaps the greatest example of woe and imperial neglect. Indeed, it's the capstone to a book whose somewhat bitter running theme is that Britain's few remaining imperial outposts (total population around 150,000) are being utterly neglected by their imperial owners. All in all, this is an excellent piece of travel writing, filled with good humor ("Ritchie's First Law of Colonial Life�which states that, whichever pink bit I visited, I would have a better than evens chance of meeting an expert on Scottish football), nuggets of history, and pointedly detailing problems and injustices in the last "pink bits."
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Commonwealth journalism 3 Sep 2010
By Jean Cottel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good writing on the last parts of the British Commonwealth. I grew up in a Commonwealth country (Canada) and found this fascinating, especially since the author did it by visiting those places.
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