the author of Krakatoa, another Englishman who refused proferred car-rides and buses to walk the length of a country. Booth traveled 4000 kilometers from north Hokkaido to south Kyushu, but, in the weird way things work, apparently he's just about as read as Simon Winchester. Winchester has gone on to read more; authors, once they put out a best-seller, find their back catalogue hunted down; Booth went on to inspire [a:Will Ferguson|21042|Will Ferguson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1232853650p2/21042.jpg]; Japanologists know of Booth, hikers have sometimes heard of Booth, Simon Winchester is a name. His name appears larger on books than the title of the book.
this is a miserable book in one sense. following, consciously, in the footsteps of shipwrecked Dutch mariners of the 18th century (Sparrowhawk/crashed in Cheju-do, an island off the south coast of Korea), as well as Victorian hysteric and lady traveler [a:Isabella Bird|2995242|Isabella L. Bird|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1261013184p2/2995242.jpg], Winchester, sufficiently Sinophilic as to write three China books, almost manages to make something out of nothing. the patheticness of this work is sort of like the pathos of the recently teenage-boy thriller Pacific Rim: the setting is Korea, but there's scarce Korean to talk about. to some degree some of this is historical and economic--South Korea, in 1988, is just the right-wing repressive government, the yellow-and-black police roadblocks, and the heavy US military presence that drowns out any other cultural or social activity. unlike Japan at the exact same time, there isn't, unfortunately, much to cover. and so Winchester is left to seek out US military officers to speak to, when not exploring how being the only British subject in three hundred kilometers means that English teachers in distant provinces sometimes know their consul-general by name.
as a period piece, as a predecessor work to year 2000 examinations of a more economically vibrant and culturally-exporting entity, as a walking journal, this book as worth. the writing is tight; Winchester is well-read, and he doesn't shy away from criticism where criticism is due. and if Alan Booth retreated to ever greater and greater solitude to eventually pass from the earth, Winchester went on to greater and greater heights, and is a non-fiction phenom.
4/5 travel piece, bearing simliarities to [b:Roads to Sata|171242|The Roads to Sata A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan|Alan Booth|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1266488012s/171242.jpg|165359] and drawing on the Isabella Bird tradition. an Englishman in the Chosen Kingdom, some twenty years before political, cultural, and economic liberalisation.