Travels Through Europe in War and Peace
By John Gimlette
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307277916, 432pp.)
Publication Date: April 7, 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Beautifully blending contemporary travel writing and military history, John Gimlette travels across Europe in the footsteps of one of the greatest armies ever assembled: the United States forces of 1944-45. In 2004, John Gimlette set off across Europe with his guide Putnam Flint, an eighty-six-year-old Bostonian who had landed in Marseille in the midst of World War II with his tank destroyer battalion, nicknamed The Panthers. With Flint's help, Gimlette traveled from Marseille north to Dijon and Alsace, Paris and Lorraine, across the Rhine into Germany, and eventually south through the Alps into Austria. Gimlette provides a vivid portrait of the route as it is today, from spectacular landscapes to cities that have risen from cinders and as it was during one of the most tumultuous moments in world history.
John Gimlette is a practicing attorney in London, where he lives with his wife. He is a regular contributor of travel articles and photographs to Condé Nast Traveller, as well as other journals and newspapers in England.
“Wittily written explorations of time, space and character.”
—The New York Times
“Reveals another range of Gimlette's skills. His ability to transport you to a foreign country is evidently transferable to a foreign time.”
“A book about the appetites of war and peace - for food, sex, and human comfort - unbridled, sordid and somehow, in their ability to lead a civilisation back to itself, redeeming.”
—The New Yorker
“An exceptional piece of travel writing.”
—Sunday Telegraph (London)
“A moving, often humorous, and thoroughly enjoyable account that works as both a wartime recollection and a travelogue . . . Gimlette strikes just the right notes in juxtaposing the past and present. He has provided a fine chronicle with broad appeal.”
Reviews from the UK:
“Deeply moving . . . Panther Soup is an important book, reminding us of the links between old and new world, ideals and ideologies, war and peace in our phoenix-like continent. It is at once raw and erudite . . . It’s also rich in black humour and insight.”
“An original travel book, written in vigorous prose and exhaustively researched . . . It has at its heart a profound understanding of the ‘soup’–the chaos and madness–of war.”
“The war in all its messy, scrappy detail has always been more difficult to convey than the grand strategies of the generals who sent them there. [But] John Gimlette has found a useful and novel way to do so . . . Gimlette has a gift for travel writing with details of the most intimate kind, the small change and ammunition of a soldier’s life . . . Panther Soup is a subtle book, with telling testimony from the survivors of what it was actually like to fight a war with few rules.”
“A book that works on many levels–historical guide, social history, moving reunion of people and place–and does each superbly.”
—Wanderlust (Book of the Month)
“John Gimlette has a nose for the incongruous and the nonsensical. He glories in tracking down rogues, fantasists and eccentrics, and delights in preposterous sights and improbable juxtapositions. He is a dazzling entertainer . . . For his third book, Gimlette is geographically much closer to home, in the heart of Europe. But this is no ordinary saunter through familiar landscapes and well-chewed attitudes.”
“John Gimlette undertakes an extraordinary odyssey in this book . . . This is an effectual account full of telling detail.”