Simon Winchester, b. 1944 London, M.A., Oxford (Geology) 1966, geological exploration Uganda 1967, changes career to journalism 1968, the Guardian, covers the Troubles incl. Bloody Sunday, Watergate, 80s and 90s travel books, mostly Asian, switches to book-writing full-time.
1998 (age 54), first breakthrough blockbuster, [b:The Professor and the Madman|25019|The Professor and the Madman A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary|Simon Winchester|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1349070925s/25019.jpg|1628566] about the OED. 2003 best-seller, [b:Krakatoa|25017|Krakatoa The Day the World Exploded|Simon Winchester|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348890801s/25017.jpg|2084098]. 5-6 books about Asia amidst a total output of ~25 books in total.
this 1986 book OUTPOSTS is the most successful of the early Winchester, (age 42) was originally a six-month project partially funded by the Sunday Times, with Winchester intending to go step by step through the remaining pieces of the British Empire that were sufficiently inhabited to have a Governor. six months became three years, 100,000 total travel miles, but Winchester sees everything except Pitcairn, is in the Falklands during the Argentina invasion, and sees some otherwise unreachable parts of the world.
probably everyone who's ever held a public or non-profit position with an internet connection has wondered about some of those odd little south sea dependencies and tiny little islands scattered around the world. Simon Winchester has in fact visited them, the lucky duck, and the resulting travel book is in that sense the peacetime [b:Imperial Grunts|33689|Imperial Grunts On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond|Robert D. Kaplan|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320426265s/33689.jpg|1964389] or [b:In the Hot Zone|463936|In the Hot Zone One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars|Kevin Sites|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348916339s/463936.jpg|452362]. one gossipy story is apparently meaningful enough for him to be barred from the dependency; trying to see Diego Garcia (now a bustling US military base) involves runs-in with the armed forces of the UK and US, and left-sympathetic analysis of the colony-empire are at times repeated but also backed up with actual anecdote and data.
4/5 interesting and unique travel book, resource for anybody wondering about Montserrat, Saint Helena, the Gibralter, --meaning actual daily life. a romp through the world for a few bucks (if acquired used)