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on 31 January 2010
Since the Second World War the English speaking world has produced some wonderful travel writers. Think of ramblings of Eric Newby, the dazzling story telling of Bruce Chatwin, the detailed solitude of Colin Thubron or the grumy and grouchy Paul Theroux. All of these are great writers but in my view there is no better than Jan Morris.

Morris published her 'last book', Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, in 2002. In reality this was the last book produced after a stint of dedicated travel. After this she retired back to her home in Snowdonia from where she continues to write books that draw on a lifetime's experience of travel.

'Contact' sets out to redress the balance of her writing. In her introduction Morris tells us that she has often not given us enough about the people she has met on her travels, not just the famous and infamous but the ordinary folks that she has met along the way.

The book is a set of small but beautiful vignettes. Many are just a paragraph long and non is longer than one page. More often than not the encounters are similar to those that we have had ourselves -- the touching, or the quirky that stay in the memory for life and some ways determine our memory of the trip. A few are more privileged, the result a career of journalism that has reached into almost every corner of the world. But when she talks here about, say, a President or the powerful and most influential it's not the record that is recorded here but the often irreverent and whimsical that stays with us. And, of course, this is often most revealing.

There are encounters with children, folks living on the street, the poor and homeless, taxi drivers and hotel staff, Nepalese hill women and folks who've just trotted past her tent as it sits in its wild camping spot. But we also have some of the movers and shapers of our modern world, John Kennedy, Harry Truman, Yves San Laurent and Peter O'Toole amongst many.

Some of these stories are wonderfully humorous and other poignant and thoughtful. Morris' approaches is always warm and human and sometime wonderfully racy and saucy.

This is a book you can dip into whenever you want to sample its delights, or one which is short enough to devour in one sitting. As soon as I finished the last line of the last moving poem, I found myself opening the book and starting again. It was just as delightful as first time around. How often can you say that?

At the moment this is available as a hardback but as a soft back price. I'd buy it in this form for this is one book that you'll come back to over and over again.
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on 11 February 2010
Jan Morris had said more than a year ago that after producing more than forty books in her lifetime she would not write any more. Yet she couldn't resist writing one more, and this is a classic of her matchless prose. It is a collection of vignettes of people she has bumped into during a life of travelling the globe. We roam with her every corner of the world and are treated to a host of contacts she has made and recorded with her astute eye. This is a perfect book to have on a bedside table and to dip into before drifting off to sleep. One wonders if this really is the last book she will write. Hopefully not.
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on 29 May 2013
A person a day! I loved this book as it swings round the globe and through time with merry abandon. Each character here is a world in a grain of sand. I found it hard to read more than one a day, as they all had something to tell me about: good thinking material.
For me, a helluva lot more interesting than a kitten-a-day calendar!
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on 28 May 2011
Fans of Jan Morris will have read most of these word pictures before as they have been culled from Jan's vast collection of literary works.

Nevertheless, Jan Morris is always worth reading, and these short glimpses allow the reader to savour her special gift for descriptive prose.
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on 10 February 2015
Wonderful word pictures - each one you have to wait to the end of the couple of paragraphs - each one you can SEE the person: Perfect
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on 16 October 2013
As with all her books a very enjoyable read. You can dip into it as the mood takes you. Great.
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on 27 February 2010
Jan Morris does not write boring books. Anything that she has written may be bought with no recommendation other than the fact of her authorship.

This volume is a tour of the world, of the mind, of recognition and of enlightenment. Fantastic.
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on 18 February 2016
An excellent read.
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on 16 July 2015
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on 26 December 2009
Jan Morris has travelled to many psrts of the world and visted many interesting places and spoken to or seen many interesting people. Her ability to give the reader a glimpse of these places and people is masterly.
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