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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 17 September 2014
This was ordered as a re-read. I think I must have read this book about 20 years ago and I got the urge to read it again during a trip around The Far East so, thanks to the powers of the Kindle, it was ready to read a minute or so after ordering it. I freely state that I love Martha Gellhorn as an author and think that she is one of the best writers about and observers of major historical events during the 20th century.
I started re-reading it in Hong Kong and the first tale is set partly in Hong Kong, a Hong Kong very different to today's. Tales of being tossed around in an aircraft 'like a butterfly in a hurricane' seemed very prescient as our huge Cathay Pacific 777 from Hong Kong to Saigon chose to give us a similar experience long after the days of the sort of travel Ms Gellhorn was undertaking in small non-pressurised aircraft!
The writing is compassionate, objective, humorous and makes you think. I am just about to finish this re-read, enjoying the remainder in bite sized chunks during the bus journey into work back in London.
And I am ready to re-read all the other Gellhorn sitting on my shelves from novellas to serious war reportage. I was fortunate enough to see the harrowing Vietnamese graveside photograph on display in The War Remnants Museum in Saigon, used as the cover photograph for, I think, The Face of War (or was it The Trouble I've Seen?) so that may be next on the list to re-read.
If you have never read anything by Martha Gellhorn, this is a great book to start with, especially if you enjoy some quality travel writing, gritty and real too. And lots to think about. I am still thinking about some of the thoughts and views from this morning's bus session, that's after a busy day at work and a night at the theatre too.
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on 14 May 1999
This is a fantastic booK: honest, amusing, highly readable, and so on. And has one of the great set-pieces of travel-writing - her account of travelling around East Africa with her 'driver' who she discovers cannot drive. A wonderful book by a great lady.
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on 4 April 2012
Martha Gellhorn is a woman one both loves and hates. But one cannot deny she had a heck of an interesting life! Here Ms. Gellhorn writes NOT a wonderful "wish you were here" travel book but just the opposite. I'm certainly glad to read about these adventures without suffering along with her on most of them, yet am delighted she shared her witty observations and insights to a world gone by. All in all a read I could scarcely put down once started...and when finished I bought a Biography of Martha Gellhorn by Caroline Moorehead to learn more about this fascinating and bloody woman!
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on 22 February 2007
I really liked this book. For me the author's strong, energetic, sometimes grumpy but always interesting personality shines through and makes this book very enjoyable. The fact that the places and times about which she writes have changed so much makes her account even more fascinating and maybe sad in places. Also Gellhorn calls it as she sees it all the time. This is a refreshing change from the image conscious writing we get so much of now. Reading this book is time well spent.
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on 8 March 2013
I love the way this woman writes, I like the fact that political correctness has not bonsai-d her stories, and the fact that she writes about the world as it was when the history we read about is still in the making - often. Her life spans much of the 20th century and her travels took her to some fascinating places. She meets some amazing characters and gives her personal response to them in extraordinary situations. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any who are interested in biographies of this sort. I am even now reading one on Martha Gellhorn in order to understand what made her the woman she was.
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on 2 July 2013
I am only through chapter 1 (China), but am already hooked on this book. It's how the author says everything so succinctly. You feel you have the complete scene in your head of the picture she is paining without any filler or fluff. And nor does she use language which requires a thesaurus to be sat next to you. I can hardly wait to move on to Africa next, and the rest of the book, and continue to travel the world with her. I can't believe it took me this long to find out about Martha Gellhorn. She sounded like a complete hoot, and has already been promoted to my fantasy dinner party guest list!
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on 14 December 2004
I don't know why I had not read this book until this year. It's fascinating, well-informed, very funny and honest. In an age where PC-ness threatens to obliterate opinion, it was refreshing to read someone who says what she thinks without self-censorship. I read each page carefully and reluctantly, not wanting it to end or to leave the company of Martha Gellhorn.
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on 31 May 2014
Cover 3/5 Not sure about the connection with the contents

Contents. Very readable so far. Nice to get into some biography again. I read on ....

Alexander of the Allrighters and Ywnwab
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on 4 June 2013
I'd put off reading this book fro some reason however I am so glad that I finally got around to reading it. Classic travel writing is the only way to describe it. Every travel book should aspire to be this good, few are. Gelhorn just writes in such an engaging, self-depreciating manner for someone who did and saw so much in her life. She also writes with great insight, sympathy and humour, you'd have to have a sense of humour to put up with Joshua in Africa. Above all with great conviction, Martha Gelhron was clearly a woman of strong convictions. My favourite of her travels described were in Africa and travelling with Hemingway in China prior to WW2 but they were all outstanding.
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on 9 October 2014
Gellhorn's superior tone about other cultures was insulting and very disappointing. Her writing is lively, but focused on herself
and we learn little about the cultural and political contexts of her journeys
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