A Sense of Place: 
Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration

“I’ve never thought of us so-called travel writers as forming a comradeship, but in this innovative book, Shapiro brings our motley crew into a single focus by surveying eighteen of us, as writers and as people, through a single pair of perceptive, generous, and imaginative eyes.”
—Jan Morris

Michael Shapiro’s illuminating conversations with the world’s great travel writers reveal deeply-held views about the craft of writing, the world, and home. Go with him and ride over dusty Montana roads to Tim Cahill’s writing cabin, step into the Dickensian clutter of Redmond O’Hanlon’s house in Oxford, visit Frances Mayes in her Tuscan villa, gaze at Peter Matthiessen’s rustic zendo on Long Island, and empty a bottle of wine with Jonathan Raban in a Seattle study that seems like a ship’s cabin.

In this book you will meet:

Isabel Allende in San Rafael, California
Bill Bryson in Hanover, New Hampshire
Tim Cahill in Livingston, Montana
Arthur Frommer in New York City
Jeff Greenwald in Oakland, California
Pico Iyer in Santa Barbara, California
Peter Matthiessen in Sagaponack, New York
Frances Mayes in Cortona, Italy
Tom Miller in Tucson, Arizona
Jan Morris in Llanystumdwy, Wales
Eric Newby in Guildford, England
Brad Newsham in Oakland, California
Redmond O’Hanlon in Oxford, England
Jonathan Raban in Seattle, Washington
Rick Steves in Edmonds, Washington
Paul Theroux in Oahu, Hawaii
Sara Wheeler in London, England
Simon Winchester in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Publishers Weekly

Journalist Shapiro (Internet Travel Planner) says that he embarked on this collection of illuminating interviews with the desire to learn more about his favorite authors, about “their lives, their hopes, their aspirations, and their thoughts about the world.” He set out to meet publishing veterans such as Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods), Jan Morris (Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere), Paul Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar) and Peter Matthiessen (The Snow Leopard), writers whose insights do indeed make for fascinating reading. But Shapiro’s discussions with novelist Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits) and guidebook gurus Rick Steves and Arthur Frommer prove equally enlightening. In the chapter “At Home with the Spirits,” for example, Allende talks about the ways in which travel informs and influences her work. She likens the memories someone keeps from a trip to the significant details that get included in a particular story: “The person doesn’t bring back the month; the person brings back the big strokes, the brilliant colors, the intense experiences, and in a week you have forgotten how uncomfortable you were and the mosquitoes. You only remember those things that eventually you might write about.” Conversations such as these help Shapiro’s book live up to its ambitious title. By combining brief profiles with lengthy Q&As for each author, he provides a comprehensive look at the process these and other writers often go through, making the volume a good choice for both armchair travelers and aspiring writers.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 19, 2004

Big-minded, big-hearted, progressive and compassionate.

New York Times Book Review, Dec. 5, 2004

Hearing some of the great travel writers talk about their craft is certainly instructive for readers and writers alike.

Keith Bellows, National Geographic Traveler

I enjoyed “A Sense of Place” down to the last drop. This is a wonderful book… a fascinating read.

Chicago Tribune, Oct. 3, 2004

Illuminating, entertaining, and insightful.

The Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2004

Shapiro functions as a less long-winded Charlie Rose, seeming to know the books as well as their authors do..

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