8:55 to Baghdad

Eames, Andrew. The 8:55 to Baghdad: from London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie. New York: the Overlook Press, 2005.

Reason read: in honor of the first electric train (July, 1835).

In 2002 Eames embarked on a (mostly) train journey from London, England to Iraq to follow in the footsteps of mystery author Agatha Christie. It is a beyond brilliant idea for Eames is able to weave together a travelogue of his own experiences, historical snapshots of the regions he traverses and an abbreviated biography of one of the world’s best known crime writers of the century. Eames’s journey takes him through Belgium, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Syria; ending in Damascus on the eve of the Gulf War.

Quote I really liked, “Personally, I feel that travel writers have too much of a responsibility towards the unfamiliar to waste their time endorsing that is already very well-trodden” (p 51). Amen to that.
Another quote, “There is no room on the land for anything as frivolous as parkland in this city while there are still drill bits to be rented out and hub caps to be sold, so if you want a quiet moment to puck your nose, read the paper or hold hands with your loved one then a ferry is the place to do it” (p 196). Okay then.
Last one, “And besides, what sort of chat-up lines do you use on a nation with whom you are about to go to war?” (p 290).

Author fact: According to the dust jacket, Eames is an authority on the Nile. Cool.

Book trivia: I wasn’t expecting photographs but there is a nice sprinkling of Eames’s travels as well as a few of his subject, Agatha Christie.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter of course called “Making Tracks By Train” (p 139).


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