Any reader who loves a good book will relish the vicarious
experience of traveling with Mark Twain, his wife, Livy, and Clara,
one of their three daughters as they tour the world on the lecture
circuit. It's important to understand the necessity of the trip:
Twain was 60, facing bankruptcy, and signed on for the lecture tour
in order to pay off his debt. The grueling schedule and
unpredictable travel accommodations take no toll on his writing,
however. Prepare to laugh - hard and often. Was it hot in India? "I
believe that in India 'cold weather' is merely a conventional
phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some
way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass
door-knob and weather which will only make it mushy." Geography,
history, culture, language, climate, language arts (oh, his choice
of words and phrases ), politics, time zones, botany, geology,
biology, religion - all are explored and described and relevant
today. Jimmy Buffett's "Remittance Man," "That's What Living is to
Me," and "Take Another Road" all spring from this book (especially
the remittance man, a character you'll meet early in the book). In
"Following the Equator," readers get the opportunity to travel from
Vancouver to Hawaii to Fiji to Australia to New Zealand to Ceylon
to India to South Africa. The book chronicles Twain's travels in
such a way that you can pick it up and focus on one region without
losing anything. But don't let that stop you from reading the whole
book. See the Southern Cross and the Blue Mountains. Get rousted
out of your comfortable train berth to change cars in Australia
because the gauge of the tracks changes from wide to narrow. Meet
the dingo and the Aboriginals, eavesdrop on Twain's conversation
with "Satan" and "God" in India, explore the diamond mines of South
Africa near the Trappist Monastery, and steer clear of the sharks
in the Great Barrier Reef. There is more adventure in this one book
than a whole year's subscription to National Geographic.
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