The Danube: A Journey Upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest

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9780300181654: The Danube: A Journey Upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest
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The author takes us on an unexpected journey up the Danube, where we encounter a remarkable and unfamiliar world

The magnificent Danube both cuts across and connects central Europe, flowing through and alongside ten countries: Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany. Travelling its full length from east to west, against the river’s flow, Nick Thorpe embarks on an inspiring year-long journey that leads to a new perspective on Europe today. Thorpe’s account is personal, conversational, funny, immediate, and uniquely observant—everything a reader expects in the best travel writing. Immersing himself in the Danube’s waters during daily morning swims, Thorpe likewise becomes immersed in the histories of the lands linked by the river. He observes the river’s ecological conditions, some discouraging and others hopeful, and encounters archaeological remains that whisper of human communities sustained by the river over eight millennia. Most fascinating of all are the ordinary and extraordinary people along the way—the ferrymen and fishermen, workers in the fields, shopkeepers, beekeepers, waitresses, smugglers and border policemen, legal and illegal immigrants, and many more. For readers who anticipate their own journeys on the Danube, as well as those who only dream of seeing the great river, this book will be a unique and treasured guide.

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About the Author:

Nick Thorpe is East and Central European Correspondent for the BBC, a journalist, and a filmmaker. He lives in Budapest.

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While most non-Europeans can’t be blamed for presuming a gloomy view of remote Eastern Europe, many of these same people also sense mystery—read, Transylvania—as well as foundational culture in a region often perceived in grim, Soviet Bloc terms. And this book takes us there, honestly and up-to-date. Members of the gravely marginalized Roma ethnic group, for example, plead with their brethren not to make predatory loans to fellow Roma who crave plasma TVs. But make no mistake, this book is fiber, as BBC correspondent and longtime Budapest resident Thorpe wades through the expected, deeply historical settings. Or maybe this history, along with the many, often wondrously spontaneous interviews, says otherwise. Maybe the prevalence of disappointment over hope and success is just honest. Maybe the astounding cruelty of wartime atrocities, the river-decimating chemical spills, and the complacency of yet another hydroelectric dam is our little chance to respond to grinding forces. Still, these densities can weary. Thorpe is a strong, detailed writer, but his many museum visits and woeful stories wouldn’t suffer from leavening. --Dane Carr

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9780300205459: The Danube: A Journey Upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest

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ISBN 10:  0300205457 ISBN 13:  9780300205459
Publisher: Yale University Press, 2014
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