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Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money Paperback – 22 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing; 2nd Revised edition edition (22 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857885872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857885873
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diccon Bewes worked for ten years at Lonely Planet and Holiday Which? magazine, before moving to Switzerland, where until recently he managed Stauffacher English Bookshop in Bern. He is now a full-time writer.

As well as grappling with German grammar, re-learning to cross the road properly, and overcoming his innate desire to form an orderly queue, he has spent the last six years exploring the bits of Switzerland he'd never heard of before. And eating lots of chocolate. All in the name of research, of course, while writing his first book, Swiss Watching. That became a No1 bestseller in Switzerland and is now in its second edition, with a new sub-title - Inside the Land of Milk and Money.

Website: www.dicconbewes.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SwissWatching
Twitter: @dicconb

Product Description

Review

'We all know that Switzerland gave us the world of cuckoo clocks, triangular chocolate and penknives, but how about the Toilet Duck, Velcro and LSD? Europe s landlocked island is a great subject for a cultural anthropologist and Bewes is a perfect guide.' —Financial Times, Book of the Year

'Bewes has an engagingly light and comic touch. The narrative moves with ease between subjects as diverse as graffiti and recycling, and it s easy to dip in and out of. —The Sunday Telegraph

'Informative and entertaining.' —Harry Ritchie, The Mail on Sunday

'It's a real page turner, a treasure trove. Absolutely jam-packed with fascinating facts that really got me thinking.' —Margaret Oertig-Davidson, author of Beyond Chocolate

'Everything you wanted to know about Switzerland, and then some. Not just a travel book, Swiss Watching is a no-stone-unturned exploration of what makes (and has made) this enigmatic country tick.' —Peter Kerr, author of the Snowball Orange series of five books
<br'A fascinating book, teeming with facts, figures, and anecdotes which even the Swiss don't know. A journalist, anthropologist and satirist, Diccon Bewes gives us a book that is serious without being academic and funny without ever falling into caricature.' --L'Hebdo

About the Author

Diccon Bewes is a full-time writer following the international success of Swiss Watching. A degree from LSE in International Relations and an 18-month world trip set him up for a career in travel writing, via the scenic route of bookselling. After ten years at Lonely Planet and Holiday Which? magazine, he decamped to Switzerland, where until recently he was manager of the Stauffacher English Bookshop in Bern. www.dicconbewes.com

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By W. Prescot on 8 Nov. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A real insight into the Swiss and what makes them tick, written by a Brit who lives in the country. Ever wondered why the Swiss are rich and successful and we're not? Read this book. The author often uses comparisons with the UK to illustrate a point. Great for fellow Brits. Lots of useful and interesting stuff written in a very engaging and amusing style. The author clearly enjoys toilet humour and never misses an opportunity to share his amusement with the reader, such as 'FART', the initials of the train operator in Ticino and 'dagshit', a Swinglish word for 'today's special offer'. Essential reading for anyone planning to work or live in the country. Only 4 stars because the kindle edition is rubbish. No photographs, unreadable maps, tables don't line up in columns. Clearly not made in Switzerland!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan B. Hanley on 30 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Bewes is writing as an outsider who is living in Switzerland and trying to understand the culture by observation and questioning. He's not an academic so doesn't have a theoretical structure. What you get is a personal and practical understanding of the Swiss. A few readers have taken umbrage at his tone, but I find him to make equal fun of the Swiss and his own country, England. I enjoyed reading the main chapters, but what makes me give this book 5 stars are the tips he gives at the end of every chapter.

It is in the tips that one learns why a woman was so annoyed with me when I opened a window on a slow-moving train on a sweltering hot day, and she wasn't sitting either next to me or across the aisle. Now I understand why people line up to board a bus and then so many sneak around the side of the line and get on first. Bewes tells us the etiquette for attending a large party, for going to someone's house, why people cross streets the way they do, and much more. I only wish this book had existed when I started visiting Switzerland decades ago. If you read nothing else, do go through all the tips, which are easy to find because they are in different print from the chapters.

If you want a less humorous and more academic approach, then get Margaret Oertig-Davidson's Beyond Chocolate, which is equally indispensable and covers different topics. But don't spend time in Switzerland without reading both books!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Phippu on 2 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Diccon Bewes has attempted what is indeed a very difficult task: trying to find out how Swiss people really tick and that as somebody who has not grown up in Switzerland and does not even speak the native language of this hometown Berne fluently, i.e. Bernese German. I am a Swiss and have lived in the UK for over 10 years and I think foreign Swiss have indeed a unique view on Switzerland and what it means being Swiss. Bewes has overall done a very good job although I think his generalisations oversimplify the country and its people. Although he tried his best to be balanced and mentioned some of the negative bits as well, the whole book feels to me too much like a tourist ad and re-enforcing British people's prejudices. Everything in Switzerland has of course to be better than in the UK so as to justify his choice of living in Berne whether it is chocolate, direct democracy, public transport, recycling, neutrality, etc. As a Swiss who has chosen to live in the UK, I think this is all a bit condescending. Also, his attempt to make the number of foreigners nowadays living in Switzerland look more comparable to other European countries is flawed: the recent influx of EU citizens probably due to the crisis in the rest of Europe is remarkable: almost 90,000 enter Switzerland every year and major cities such as Basel and Zurich have changed. Bewes has made a good attempt but he still suffered from the fact that Swiss are so reserved, i.e. Swiss rarely share what they really think with a foreigner. Good book but more surface than people would assume when reading it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Undecumani on 18 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Nice book: Switzerland is a very fascinating country with its traditions and contradictions.
I like the style of the author, but I don't think he really knows anything apart from the UK, the US and (of course) Switzerland: he finds strange that in Switzerland people don't use greeting cards as much as they do in English speaking countries...the fact is that English speaking countries are the only ones that massively use cards (so it is not just Switzerland, but the rest of the world as well).
He also finds strange the fact that, in Switzerland, Italian dressing for salads is made up by oil, vinegar and extras...basically the same way salad dressings are in Italy...
There are a few more examples in the book, together with some questionably 'humurous' remarks about other countries, that are a bit annoying (it seems as if anything that isn't British or American is weird). It's a shame because all these little things undermine the potential of the book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kate on 2 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains facts that even my Swiss husband didn't know. Funny and amusing although some bits about the language seen from the British perspective were kind of boring. What the author found strange and exotic about German is not so exotic it's the UK being a bit different. But overall a very good buy.
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By Montandon on 4 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a very helpful and challenging book for people not too shy to look into a mirror in order to find out something more about them.
When reading this book we got aware of many facts which we have been considering as self-evident at least for us who were born in Switzerland. (E.g.: voting on nearly everything, different languages, public transportation system, etc.) We learn about our habits, traditions and the different ways of life in the more or less segregated parts of our country. We have to admire the knowledge's of the British author about the function of our old democracy consisting of the citizens, their government and parliament. And we can learn a lot. The author is a gentleman in teaching. He is witty and always respectful. The book is a very suitable tool especially for English conversation classes, since it covers many topics. Each topic is a challenge to deal with in order to find out the different opinions and feelings from foreigners and people grown up in Switzerland. Of course, whenever possible we should try to read the book in English, since the typical British humour needs to apply English.
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