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on 8 July 2008
Michael Palin is cool. I really like him. A lot of people find him a bit too eager to play the fool but this is nonsense because he's just great. Anyway what do you expect from a member of the Python team?

This book is a very enjoyable journey through the former Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe. If you watch the accompanying TV series at the same time then it becomes even more enjoyable as the book contains material that the TV programme doesn't and vice versa.

On the one hand this book is really rather superficial. You never really get to know a great deal about any of the countries that Palin visits. This is made up for by some of the interesting places he goes to and people he meets. If you are after a detailed description of what Eastern Europe is like today and what the fall of Communism has mean't you won't find it here. What you will find is plenty of inspiration to go and have a look for yourself. I certainly now have a hankering for Budapest.

I've watched Palin's other TV series but this is the first time I've read one of his books. While it was very enjoyable I still can't get over a feeling of jealousy. I'd love to go to these places. This feeling is only compounded when he says something like "I meet my friend Misha who shows me round..." This last point is surely a criticism of myself rather than the book. Maybe I'll get round to visiting some more places in Eastern Europe later in my life.

The photos in the book are excellent and appear at least once every two pages.

The only big disappointment I have is that Palin deals with some countries only very briefly. I really wanted to know more about Slovakia and he never visited Belarus at all.

Overall this is a great book for getting away from your usual humdrum and travelling by proxy. It's a really enjoyable and easy read. Maybe I'll buy some of his other books and watch his previous series again.
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2007
I was lucky enough to have bought this at a book signing by the ever genial Michael Palin. Have had a good look through this book and was pleased he has covered many of the places I have visited. The great thing about this book is that it is packed with fabulous photos of places making one wish to visit them asap.

Lots of explanations about the recent history of these countries and a book well worth having for reference as well as pleasure. Good value at the moment from Amazon.
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on 31 March 2014
I liked Palin's Brazil very much. It presented a country in very various and lively way, it made me start saving money for my next long vacation to be there - and not visit only Rio and Sao Paolo. So, I bought this one quickly after.

There are few problems with a book. As I lived in "New Europe", I presume is the first one. There is not much new revealed to me, and I don't think only of ex-Yugoslavia, but also of Bolgaria, Romania and Baltic country, which I have not visited yet. Despite being 120+ days around, he did not manage to show countries in interesting ways, as he did for Brazil.

Second problem is repetitiveness, especially from political point of view. Too much time is spent on stories about ex-communist countries, what people think now, how they feel about changes, etc.

And the third one is that some countries receive very little attention. Serbia, for example, is presented only through Belghrade, and even that on very short level.

Not sure I will be continuing with his other travel books.
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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2007
What a fantastic book! My copy spent many weeks in the classroom (school is my postal address!), where it is attracting the attention of several of my class of 10 & 11 year olds - showing that it has an appeal to all ages. Geography and literacy covered in one fell sweep!!!

I have been totally engrossed in this series - so much so that I was thrilled to receive the DVDs for Christmas this year; however, I have to say that the book is even better! There is so much more in it - so much insight into a changing world - and the photos are amazing as he travels through the former Yugoslavia and on into much of Eastern Europe.

Although some of the places that he visits are places that I know - and some are places that family and friends have visited, the majority of the places that he visits are places that I have never been to - but this book has increased my urge to travel to the parts of Europe that were formally virtually taboo - although I know only too well that I will never be able to experience half the things that Michael Palin has been fortunate enough to experience - he has the advantage of celebrity and the power of the BBC to help him - lucky thing!

Having said that, this book is a worthwhile addition to any personal library - and a terrific addition to any coffee table.

My only sadness is that Michael Palin has been reported as saying that this might be the last of his wonderful journeys. All I can say is - for the sake of those of us who have loved your insight into the rest of the world, PLEASE keep travelling, Michael!

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on 13 March 2013
Travel books are about the traveller and their travels yet this book is truly superficial being more akin to a skim through an encyclopaedia. What really matters is how the person telling the story reacts to their environment and the situations they encounter. Palin doesn't do this and just describes almost fact like what he sees but not much about how he feels. The book feels distant and written some time after the expedition took place hence the lack of human intimacy which we all experience just by living in the world.
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on 25 May 2008
This is arguably Michael Palin's masterpiece and could well be his swansong. There are few travel writers who are endowed with the descriptive prowess of Palin and his ability to see the funny side in the most mundane of situations.
"New Europe" sets new standards in travel writing, offering a healthy blend of irony and cynicism, and maintaining a fair balance between reality and imagination. Palin comes across as a seasoned traveller - cum - narrator, who is capable of adapting to the most austere of conditions and enjoying a conversation with people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds. His descriptions of the meetings with the Mayor of Tirana and the Romanian shepherd - turned - millionaire convey a palpable frisson and are not readily forgotten.
In addition, the book contains a large number of well - chosen high - quality photos with equally engaging captions. It is only natural that the author should appear in many of them for, after all, this journey is part of his life.
Unlike the TV series, the book does justice to Eastern Europe, although the odd slight bias is inevitable. Furthermore, some of Palin's quintessentially English peculiarities, including his fascination with steam - engines, may have been misconstrued as prejudice by some East European readers.
Overall, this is an excellent book which has firmly established Palin as one of the most eminent present - day travel writers. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed Palin's previous works or, indeed, anyone who wants to learn more about East European countries and their rich cultural heritage.
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on 27 August 2015
I found this an absorbing read & I preferred it to the tv series because you had more time to take it all in & refer back. (I only saw about 3 episodes so good to catch up!). It wasn't the book I thought it would be - he doesn't really make comments, just observes.
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on 22 February 2014
very enjoyable also a good book for youngsters to read and learn how other countries have survived horrible times in their history
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on 12 July 2013
Having visited many of the places that Michael Palin takes you to in this book it is a good insight to life in Eastern Europe
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on 2 July 2014
This travelogue gave me a comprehensive update on this region,since I was there in 1988, as only Michael palin can do it !
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