Cover image for The world : travels 1950-2000
The world : travels 1950-2000
Morris, Jan, 1926-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Writer's world
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiv, 458 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"Originally published in Great Britain under the title A writer's world : travels 1950-2000"--T.p. verso.

Includes index.
The 1950s ; 1. Mount Everest, 1953 ; 2. A benign republic: USA ; 3. Kingdom of troubles: the Middle East ; 4. South African White and Black ; 5. Confusions in paradise: the Caribbean ; 6. Europe: after the war was over ; 7. Orientalisms: The Far East -- The 1960s ; 8. The Eichmann Trial ; 9. The Cold War ; 10. South American frissons ; 11. Oxford, 1965 ; 12. Australia ; 13. A New Africa ; 14. Manhattan, 1969 -- The 1970s ; 15. Pleasure places ; 16. Ex-Britannica ; 17. Casablanca: a change of sex ; 18. London, 1975 ; 19. Post-glory: the USA ; 20. South African Black on White -- The 1980s ; 21. On wistful whims: virtual places ; 22. Sydney, 1983 ; 23. O Canada! ; 24. There stood China ; 25. Vienna, 1983 ; 26. Y Wladfa: another Wales ; 27. Berlin, 1989 -- The 1990s ; 28. The flux of Europe ; 29. Light and shade in the USA ; Portland, Oregon ; 30. Sydney, 1995 ; 31. Hong Kong.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G465 .M663 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The first book to distill Jan Morris's entire body of work into one volume, The World is a magnum opus by the most-celebrated travel writer in the world. To read it is to take an epic armchair journey through the last half of twentieth-century history. A breathtakingly vivid guide to our greatest cosmopolitan cities and cultures from Manhattan to Venice and from Baghdad to Barbados, this book assembles fifty years of Morris's finest travel writing. With eyewitness accounts of such seminal moments as the first successful ascent of Everest, the Eichmann trial, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the handover of Hong Kong, The World promises to create an entirely new generation of Jan Morris readers. A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2003.

Author Notes

Jan Morris is the author of some forty books -- most notably the Pax Britannica trilogy about the rise and fall of the British Empire -- most of which apply the techniques of travel writing to history, biography, and memoir. She lives in Wales

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Morris is one of the world's most preeminent travel writers, having been at it for a half-century. The author of several books, this Welshwoman has nevertheless made the travel essay an important aspect of her oeuvre. Her talent in the short-space evocation of place is given ultimate tribute in this magnificent collection of her essays, arranged chronologically, which span not only the world, as the title indicates, but also--as the subtitle reveals--her entire writing career. Jan Morris began life as James Morris, and her sex-change operation is discussed nearly halfway through the book in the essay "Casablanca: A Change of Sex." Before that, she was James and wrote as James; indeed, the very first essay in this collection is about the first ascent of Mount Everest, by Edmund Hilary in 1953, with whose expedition James Morris served as the only accompanying reporter (for the Times of London). Morris' immaculate and well-turned prose emphasizes her self-appraisal: "I am by nature an outsider, by profession an onlooker, by inclination a loner, and I have spent my life looking at things and happenings, and observing their effect on my own sensibility." Her eye for the telling detail is stiletto-keen, and her sensitivity to calling things as they are but never doing so in a condescending fashion remains undiminished. An important book for all travel collections. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This collection of essays and excerpts from the globe-spanning career of Morris, one of the most admired and imitated travel writers alive, is fantastic in its depth and breadth. But whether it also succeeds as a portrait of the world in the years 1950-2000 depends on readers' response to Morris's impressionistic style. Morris had the good fortune of beginning her career (when she was still James Morris) writing for two great British newspapers, the Times and the Guardian, when the British Empire still spanned the world, and she's spent much of her career writing about former colonies. But she is much more than a chronicler of empire. This work finds Morris in Atlanta, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Capetown, Kyoto, Odessa, La Paz, Sydney and Addis Ababa, to name just a few cities from which she files reports in the first two decades of the period alone. Her style of reporting, increasingly abstract as time passes (and increasingly joyous following her sex-change operation in Morocco, a story she tells from a touchingly wry distance), finds her ignoring politicians and celebrities in favor of the wisdom of cab drivers and the tone of street signs. Her job, as she writes, is "simply to grin like a dog and run about the city." A brief, pessimistic epilogue aside, Morris likes what she has seen in the world. Inevitably, her many devoted readers will be disappointed by the necessary brevity of most of the excerpts here (she has written more than 30 books), but as an introduction to the writer's luminous prose, there is no better place to start. 6 illus. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prologue: Is that the Truth?p. xi
The 1950s
1 Everest 1953p. 3
2 A Benign Republic: USAp. 7
Manhattanp. 7
The Southp. 11
Chicagop. 14
The Rocketp. 18
3 Kingdom of Troubles: The Middle Eastp. 19
Egyptp. 19
Lebanonp. 27
Jordanp. 31
Jerusalemp. 35
Iranp. 37
Omanp. 40
The Suez Affairp. 42
Baghdadp. 46
Israelp. 48
4 South African White and Blackp. 51
5 Confusions in Paradise: The Caribbeanp. 56
Trinidadp. 56
Barbadosp. 59
Cubap. 61
6 Europe: After the War was Overp. 64
Berlinp. 64
Parisp. 67
Londonp. 70
Two Grandeesp. 74
7 Orientalisms: The Far Eastp. 78
Japanp. 78
Hong Kongp. 86
8 Venice 1959p. 89
The 1960s
9 The Eichmann Trialp. 93
10 The Cold Warp. 100
The UNp. 100
Moscowp. 102
Leningradp. 112
Odessap. 115
Czechoslovakiap. 118
Polandp. 122
The Sixth Fleetp. 125
Helsinkip. 128
Triestep. 130
11 South American Frissonsp. 133
La Pazp. 133
Limap. 137
Cuzcop. 138
12 Oxford 1965p. 142
13 Australiap. 145
Darwinp. 145
Sydneyp. 148
Alice Springsp. 151
14 A New Africap. 154
Ghanap. 154
Nigeriap. 158
Ethiopiap. 161
15 Manhattan 1969p. 166
The 1970s
16 Pleasure Placesp. 171
Kashmirp. 171
Trouvillep. 177
17 Ex-Britannicap. 183
Singaporep. 183
Ceylonp. 188
Darjeelingp. 192
Delhip. 199
18 Casablanca: A Change of Sexp. 206
19 London 1975p. 210
20 Post-Glory: The USAp. 227
Los Angelesp. 227
Manhattanp. 237
21 South African Black and Whitep. 257
The 1980s
22 On Wistful Whims: Virtual Placesp. 271
Wellsp. 271
San Franciscop. 279
Rio de Janeirop. 283
23 Sydney 1983p. 288
24 O Canada!p. 305
Ottawap. 305
Torontop. 312
Vancouverp. 322
St John'sp. 323
25 There Stood Chinap. 330
26 Vienna 1983p. 347
27 Y Wladfa: Another Walesp. 357
28 Berlin 1989p. 361
The 1990s
29 The Flux of Europep. 371
Vineyardsp. 371
Switzerlandp. 374
Francep. 380
Germanyp. 386
Italyp. 394
Bosniap. 399
Lithuaniap. 402
Hungaryp. 405
Bulgariap. 408
Romaniap. 411
Albaniap. 414
Irelandp. 416
30 Light and Shade in the USAp. 419
Portland, Oregonp. 419
On the Zephyrp. 422
West Pointp. 426
Manhattanp. 430
31 Sydney 1995p. 434
32 Hong Kong: The Endp. 438
Epilogue: Fulfilling a Long-Needed Wantp. 443
Indexp. 447