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New Europe by Michael Palin
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New Europe

by Michael Palin

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Michael Palin (1943- ), English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter experienced what he terms ‘New Europe’ in his 2006-2007 travel through twenty countries of Eastern Europe including Slovenia; Croatia; Bosnia; Albania; Bulgaria; Turkey; Moldova; Romania; Serbia; Hungary; Ukraine; Latvia; Lithuania; Russia; Poland; Slovakia and Germany. Documented is an inspirational and significant journey of discovery. He says, ‘with the Cold War over and the Iron Curtain lifted, there was the prospect of being able to travel through once-forbidden lands; of making a voyage of discovery on my own doorstep’ (p. 6). Palin talks about this New Europe, describing countries with a ‘clear sense of their own identity’ (p. 6). He states that, ‘for the first time in a thousand years, the old Europe of domination and conflict has been replaced by a new Europe of co-operation (p. 7). This book is incredibly interesting and complemented by a wonderful selection of photographs from his journey. ( )
  boppisces | May 13, 2011 |
Palin's writing really transports you to Europe. From misery at Auschwitz to a fashion catwalk, I smiled and wiped away tears at various points. Very well written travel book with a good dose of history thrown in. Can't wait to read some more of his books. ( )
  birdsam0307 | May 20, 2010 |
It would be difficult to separate the book from the television series, better titled "A series too far". Even the "New Europe" title suggests the belated discovery of a part of the continent which an increasing number of people had already been visiting for some years.
"We need to do a new series."
"Must we? Where could we go."
"How about the new Europe?"
"What new Europe?"
"The East, the Balkans - nobody knows about it yet."
"Really?"
Predictably, the result was a lame series. I awaited the accompanying book with interest - although not too much interest - to see whether the flaw was a presenter whose heart wasn't in it, or bad research, or bad editing. This is still not entirely clear.

The book does clarify a number of things. Palin really does believe that Sarajevans can't stop talking about the war once they start. Or, given the stereotypic fare on offer, is it that Palin can't stop thinking about it? Yes, as the series showed (or didn't show), even though the referendum on Montenegrin independence (and its likely outcome) was known about well in advance - and the production team were aware of it - the intrepid visitors to the 'new' Europe sailed right on past its newest country. Still, this did give Palin more time to be rude about Tirana.

It now seems the television series was rather misleading about Macedonia. It may have been a little confusing to see Palin step off a boat from Albania - come on; it's much simpler to drive round the north of the lake and that's what you did - on the shore in Ohrid and be in Bulgaria in a matter of seconds. In reality, the team did actually spend some time in Macedonia. Sadly, a country of spectacular scenery, full of history and art, whose fragmentation could potentially have caused more mayhem in the Balkans than the Bosnian war, was edited out, (except from the tally of countries visited). And L'viv genuinely was too wet to bother with much. (Fortunately, the people from UNESCO must have been there on a fine day.) And....

But let's be positive. At least 'New Europe' reminds us that there is a country called Moldova where it is worth spending a little time.

The book came out in paperback at £7.99. It is now available in some charity shops at 50p. It was worth the wait.

[The elevated two star rating reflects the book's clarifications, the acknowledgement of the existence of Macedonia and a little worthwhile stuff about Moldova.] ( )
  GeoV | Mar 8, 2010 |
Doesn't add anything to the tv series. Is it me, or is Michael Palin obsessed with what he eats? He spend most of his diaries telling what he had been eating... ( )
  rustytraveller | Jun 1, 2008 |
Okay, but the destinations seemed to run together for me - perhaps it was the missing visuals? ( )
  Seajack | Feb 29, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0297844490, Hardcover)

Until the early 1990s, when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, travelling behind the iron curtain was never easy. In undertaking his new journey through Eastern Europe, breathing in its rich history, filming its exquisite sights and talking to its diverse peoples, Michael fills what has been a void in his own experience and that of very many of his own generation. As in all his series, Palin's New Europe takes the form of a journey through countries which have rich and complex cultures. Few have survived intact, as the ebb and flow of warring armies has continually changed the map of Europe. Starting in the mountains of Slovenia he travels down through Croatia and the former Yugoslavia to Albania before turning northwards to embrace Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, The Ukraine, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, the former East Germany, Poland, the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (as Konigsberg originally home to the Teutonic Knights), Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, opening up a new and undiscovered world to millions of viewers and readers.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:00 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Michael Palin's New Europe starts with a simple idea: that only a couple of hours from home is a half of Europe that is for him as unknown and unexplored as the plateau of Tibet or the vastnesses of the Sahara. Cut off for most of his life by Cold Wars and Iron Curtains, Europe's eastern lands are now open for business." "And it's as much a voyage of discovery as any of Michael's other journeys, as he finds himself in countries he'd barely heard of, many of them new names on the map, many unfamiliar and mysterious, all with tragic histories and much brighter futures." "Starting in the snows of the Julian Alps, on the borders of Italy and Slovenia, Michael heads east to discover the half of Europe he never knew." "Visiting twenty countries, more than in his Himalaya and Sahara journeys combined, he encounters painful memories and exuberant celebrations. Throwing himself into local life with his usual reckless curiosity, he samples pig fat with a brandy chaser, meets Romanian lumberjacks, drives the 8.58 stopping train from Poznan to Wolsztyn, learns about mine-clearing in Bosnia, treads the cat-walk at a Budapest fashion show and watches Turkish gents wrestling in olive oil."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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