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Swiss Watching: Inside Europe's Landlocked Island by Diccon Bewes

Swiss Watching: Inside Europe's Landlocked Island

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Sue Baker's view...

July 2010 Travel Book of the Month.

Banks, Cuckoo Clocks, Cheese and Chocolate just about sums up most people’s knowledge of Switzerland, but read Diccon Bewes' entertaining view of the country and you’ll know a whole lot more. He takes readers on a tour of Switzerland and we learn about its history, its people and its place at the heart of Europe. Diccon Bewes has the Bryson touch, informing and entertaining readers with his observations, considerable knowledge and love for this little known country.

To listen to an interview with Diccon Bewes on the BBC "Excess Baggage" programme, click here.

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Who is Sue Baker


Swiss Watching: Inside Europe's Landlocked Island by Diccon Bewes

One country, four languages, 26 cantons, and 7.5 million people (but only 80 per cent of them Swiss): there's nowhere else in Europe like it. Switzerland may be almost 400 km from the nearest drop of seawater, but it is an island at the centre of Europe. Welcome to the landlocked island. Switzerland is the country that not only gave us triangular chocolate and holey cheese, but also the world's first Toilet Duck (1980) and the Swiss Army Knife (1897). The country is famous for its punctual trains and strict neutrality. This is the country that has yodelling festivals on national television. But what lies behind these stereotypes? Swiss Watching is a revealing journey around Europe's most individual country. From seeking Heidi and finding the best chocolate to reliving a bloody past and exploring an uncertain future, Swiss Watching proves that there's more to Switzerland than banks and skis, francs and cheese. This is a picture of the real Switzerland, a place where the breathtaking scenery shaped a nation not just a tour itinerary, and where tradition is as important as technology. It's also the story of its people, who have more power than their politicians, but can't speak to one another in the same language - and who own more guns per head than the people of Iraq. As for those national stereotypes, well, not all the cheese has holes, cuckoo clocks aren't Swiss and the trains don't always run exactly on time.


'Book of the Year' Financial Times

'Switzerland may not, ostensibly, seem like a particularly interesting subject for an anthropological study, but Bewes has an engagingly light and comic touch' Daily Telegraph

'Informative and entertaining...Bewes reveals how Switzerland is riddled with contradictions... A journalist who now lives in Switzerland, Bewes is a well-qualified guide to a country that, although familiar, requires expertise to understand' Mail on Sunday

"It’s a real page turner, a treasure trove. Absolutely jam-packed with fascinating facts that really got me thinking." - Margaret Oertig-Davidson, author of Beyond Chocolate

“Everything you wanted to know about Switzerland, and then some. Not just a travel book, 'Swiss Watching' is a no-stone-unturned exploration of what makes (and has made) this enigmatic country tick.” - Peter Kerr, author of the Snowball Orange series of five books

Click here to download the full review of Swiss Watching by Harry Ritchie writing in The Mail on Sunday.

About the Author

Diccon Bewes

Diccon Bewes is a travel writer. A world trip set him up for a career in travel writing, via the scenic route of bookselling. After ten years at Lonely Planet and Holiday Which? magazine, he decamped to Switzerland. In addition to grappling with German, re-learning to cross the road properly, and overcoming his desires to form an orderly line, he has spent the last five years exploring this quirky country. Following the incredible success of Swiss Watching, he is now a full-time writer.

Author photo © Alison Pouliot

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Book Info

Publication date

19th March 2012


Diccon Bewes

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Nicholas Brealey Publishing


336 pages


The Real World
eBook Favourites

Travel writing
European history



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