JACKET NOTES: It is unfortunate for posterity that Dr. Johnson succeeded in getting only as far as Paris. Eric Newby made better plans. Although no stranger to the Mediterranean or its shores (Newby nearly drowned in it during the war), he set off round it in a clockwise direction, visiting most of the fifteen countries that surround it and seeing en route a remarkable variety of people, places and things. With his wife Wanda, but for whose wisdom he would almost certainly have ended up in a coffin, a jail, or even a madhouse, Newby investigates the wonders of the Mediterranean as it is and as it was. He plumbs the mysteries of the underworld of Naples and of one of its more lucrative subsidiary industries, the funeral business. He investigates the relative merits of Turkish baths. He scales Mount Olympus and the Great Pyramid (the former in thick fog, the latter incurring a fine), travels through Second World War battlefields in Libya (still infested with a million mines) and takes part in a penitential procession in Seville.
Eric Newby has been compared to the much-travelled Greek Eudoxus, "a man inclined to admire the peculiarities of regions and, also, not uninformed about them' He is also possessed of senses alive to everything he encounters: little of significance and still less of the absurd escapes his eye. It is doubtful that any other book about the Mediterranean conveys with the same vitality the sheer variety of life, landscape, atmosphere, and history that exists to this day on its shores.
(© Little Brown and Company)