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First Overland: London-Singapore by Land Rover Paperback – 27 Sep 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Signal Books Ltd; New ed edition (27 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904955142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904955146
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 401,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

An altogether delightful book... written with humour and beguiling gusto. --Times Literary Supplement

I think that this is the best travel book I have ever read. --The Motor

Fifty years on, their journey and its telling have become both an epic and a classic. --Sir David Attenborough

About the Author

Tim Slessor was formerly a BBC documentary maker and is the author of Lying in State (Aurum, 2003).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
excellent book
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Format: Paperback
My connection with this book is a long one as I first read it in the 1960's and I was pleased to see it back in print. One of the sponsors the trip was Brooke Bond and my late father-in-law was the Indian based representive of the company and looked after the group when they were in Delhi - their exploits are recorded in the book which includes an hilarious TV performance on Indian TV.
In 1994 I brought the whole group together at Magdelene College Cambridge for a celebratory dinner at which it was intended for my father-in-law to meet up with them after 40 years but sadly he died just before the dinner took place. We pressed ahead and it was very interesting to meet all of the travellers who had not been together for many,many years. The book for me is the most evocative "road" book ever and is a prototype for many of the books on motorised travel that have appeared since. The period they travelled in (1954-5) was the last knockings of the Empire and traces of the Second World War were in one case at least an important part of making the journey work. The only other book of similar importance, in my opinion, of the long distance traveller is Ted Simon's "Jupiter's Travels" a journey he undertook in 1975 by Triumph motorbike. But this is a truly great travelling book and should be read by anyone with the travelling bug.
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I loved reading this book and will buy it for my family and friends for Christmas. In an age when travel means airports and starbucks, it was so refreshing to read of travellers who crossed all the borders and mountains that separate us from Singapore and the Pacific. There were mountains and rivers of which I had not even heard. One minute they were following the crusaders and the conquests of Alexandra the great, the next they were removing fan belts to ford the wide rivers beyond India. I also loved the honest account of a bunch of bright Oxbridge Graduates couped up in two landrovers for almost a year; it made big brother look pretty tame and uniteresting. Read this from any background and you'll enjoy it. But beware, you might get itchy feet....
David Melville
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The adventure of a lifetime.

These days its common to take a year out before Uni "Traveling" to get some independent experience.These guys did it differently (bar one Oxford man), and passed their degree courses before setting out.

In the year that it took them to complete this one-off adventure, they are exposed to some hardship and some opulence; influence and power, humility and grace, fun, friendship and responsibility, heat, cold and general discomfort. But mainly they learned to work as a team to achieve their ultimate goal.

Some very different personalities, temperaments and early life experiences with a cross section of skills, worked together as one team, sometimes two and always ably supported by the home team. They made it through to the end of land (Singapore) in two early Land Rover vehicles. In doing so, they directly influence what they would eventually do with their lives. Something that many still find hard to decide on completing their degree. End of Empire? Yes, that too.

Would highly recommend reading this re-print of Tim Slessor's excellent book.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book 34 years ago when my father allowed me to handle his 1st Edition Hardback. It is a true travel book - intrepid chaps (almost) biting off more than they could chew and puttering along in Series 1 Landies. Their observations on the world around them are as valid today as they were then - read their comments about the various nations competing for business in the Middle East. How little has changed! Their domestic arrangements inside the Landies makes amusing reading - especially of note are their methods of air-conditioning and washing their clothes. This book is a gem - buy a copy for all your friends!
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Format: Paperback
For me, First Overland marks the end of the era of great human adventure, when the number of untested and unconquered journeys was dwindling fast. By the '60s, for anything to be considered an adventure, it required some element of space travel, so First Overland is notable in that it chronicles a wonderful journey of 6 resourceful men to get from London to Singapore - by road when they had it, and by unpaved paths, desert and jungle when there was no road to be had.
The 5 surviving members (Henry, the mechanic of the group, passed away several years ago according to Attenborough's forward) are traveling (by plane!) to Singapore to mark the 50th anniversary of their arrival on March 6 1956: when you read 'First Overland', the tone that Slessor captures makes it feel so immediate, yet the reader is struck by his insights into the coming upheaval in the Middle East (and now Burma / Myanmar) that make this overland trip impossible in our modern times.
A classic travel book, highly recommended!
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I bought this book for a landrover enthusiast (to the extent that he has built his own!). I was a bit worried by another review which said it was mostly about the drinks parties they had on the way, but it was received very favourably by the recipient. It seems to be a good book for anyone with an interest in period landrovers - the trip was done in the 1950s - and who has enough knowledge to understand the difficulties of undertaking a project like this and is interested in the way the problems were overcome. It certainly got the thumbs-up from a landrover expert not given to excessive praise!
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