The Innocents Abroad
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The Innocents Abroad

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  5,837 ratings  ·  475 reviews
The Innocents Abroad is one of the most prominent and influential travel books ever written about Europe and the Holy Land.
Paperback, 560 pages
Published February 11th 2003 by Modern Library (first published 1869)
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Mike
Aug 24, 2007 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with a cynic's eye of the world
When I lived in Madrid years ago I used to buy pistachios from an Iranian refugee in Retiro Park. I don't recall his name, but I decided to call him Stan. It drove him crazy, but I called him Stan anyway. Why did I call him Stan?

One word: Ferguson.

Ferguson is every tour guide that graces the pages of Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. The author and his cohort call their guides Ferguson, whether in Paris or in Athens. The name drives each Ferguson crazy, but they do it anyway. And regardless of...more
Bryce Wilson
God you've got to love Twain.

A funny sacred cow roasting romp through Europe and The Middle East, taking on stereotypes, high society, and decorum with a shotgun blast to the face. However, this is young amused by humanities flaws Mark Twain, not embittered "Fuck the World." Mark Twain. So there's still plenty of room for real wonder and occasional awe.

Plus it has the best reaction to a Mummy you will ever see.
Patrick
This novel is part stand-up comedy and part history lesson. Throughout the novel Twain is hysterically funny, irreverent, lampooning and blatantly racist--a classic American traveling abroad. This travel log touches upon almost every tourist spot in Europe, North Africa and the Holy Land. Twain covers many of the most important sites in Europe in a very thorough manner. The text would become tedious if not for the wit and clever turning of phrases throughout the work. The humor does have quite a...more
Maggie
This is one of those books which I think time has not been kind to. All of the information was interesting, the little stories were a mixture of merely amusing, hysterically funny, and over-the-top annoying, and then there were the chapters which were absolutely fabulous--so well written and beautiful that I begged for an entire book of that kind of writing.

Part of the problem here is that the world has become so politically correct that all the members of my book club agreed that we cringed at...more
Phillip Ozdemir
When you read Twain, you realize he is head and shoulders above other authors, even really good authors. How do you measure the level of his genius? I don't know. Physicists used to rate the genius level of other physicists on a scale of 1- 10, and then along came Dick Feynmann whom everyone agreed was "off-scale". Twain's ability as a writer might just be "off-scale", too. I have seen estimates of Goethe's and Shakespeare's IQs which are at the top end of all humanity's and I'm quite sure Mark...more
Derek
10 percent humorous versus 90 percent tedium. And that may even be a generous assessment.

The humor is actually laugh-out-loud humor - and I rarely LOL while reading - but the tedium... oh, the tedium! It became more and more of a trudge.

I may yet give this another try, as I really do *want* to read more Twain, but not in the foreseeable future.
Thom Swennes
Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad is a travel book. I have no doubt that it is a travel book because that is exactly how Mark Twain described it. It is, however, much more than a travel book. It is a classic example of how American’s (more often than not) behave in foreign countries. The passing of 145 years (published in 1867) hasn’t changed the American mentality in the least. Twain’s pilgrimage was to southern Europe and the Holy Lands. His descriptions of fellow passengers and people they met we...more
Marc Weitz
I found myself anxious to read this book expecting to enjoy the application of Mark Twain's wit to traveling abroad in Europe in 1867. The wit was there but hidden away amongst loads and loads of boring descriptions and events. Reading this book was like watching soccer: there were moments of interest tucked away in long minutes of people running around in a circle. So much so, that when the funny or interesting parts came up, I found that I would miss the beginning because I had zoned out.

This...more
Bob Foulkes
The Innocents Abroad has been on my bookshelf to read for some time. I deflected the imperative to read it by giving it to my son, but when he returned it, I decided to dive in. This is one of Twain's famous books. He embarks on a voyage to Europe and the Middle East in 1869. Obviously dated and extensively written (he could have used a good editor), it is nevertheless worth the time it takes to sit down and enjoy his story. The book was a compilation of letters to a San Francisco newspaper; wel...more
Naftoli
This travel log is one of the best books by Twain I have read. His observations throughout Europe and the Holy Land are hilarious, reflective, multi-layered, derogatory, compassionate, insightful, and at times tediously introspective; in short it looks, feels, and reads like typical Twain. Additionally, the reader sees with a new pair of eyes, that is, a mid-19thcentury American Protestant set of eyes. But not always, at times Twain demonstrates a citizen-of-the-world worldview before diving bac...more
Stephanie
I recently watched the PBS program on Mark Twain, and decided to pick this up as one of the few of his works I haven't read. I love his humor, he could be so caustic and sarcastic and somehow endearing at the same time. I wish I had met him.

Reading this book took me back to a time of much international travel in my teens. I was a shy teenager, so I watched with horror as my family typefied the "Ugly American" stereotype he plays with here. He also captures that sense of the awe of the shear weig...more
Zelda
This guffaw-inducing recollection of a pleasure cruise through Europe and the Holy Land made me want to ditch the husband and kids and minivan and become a travel writer. But then I realized that without my husband I don't have money to travel. And without my kids I don't have a need to leave the country to get a moment's peace. Also, I wouldn't have the freedom Twain had to express my open disdain for foreign cultures and people. Might as well stay home and enjoy Twain's "Roughing It". I hope i...more
Natan
I read the Hebrew translation, and apparently they only translated the part about the trip in the Holy Land.

When I was little, I used to think about how fun it would be to bring some figure from history back to life and show him today's world. What would impress him the most? How would he react to modern technology? And that was before the Internet... Whom would I choose?

Anyway, now I have no doubts as to the last question. I would choose Mark Twain and show him around the modern State of Israel...more
Mike Suter
Mark Twain's first book details his cruise from New York to Europe and through Palestine and back again. The book is a bit uneven; when Twain writes about his companions and himself, it can be hilarious. When he bothers to describe the sights, things bog down a bit. Despite being his first book, Clemens had already developed his 'Twain' persona at this point, and the great humorist is on full display. As an example: Twain and his card-playing comrades realize that the tour guides (who they unive...more
Fran Darling
After finishing a mammoth biography of Mark Twain this past year - I decided I need to read more of his actual works. I read the usual Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn as a young adult, but never ventured into any others. This is one of his first books that was to become popular and boost him to fame past that of journalist/short-story favorite. (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was written 10 yrs later)
His account of major countries in Europe and middle east around the Mediterranean are so far rea...more
Eduardo
Fun account of Twain's travels abroad, with his usual sarcasm and humor. It's light reading but also interesting as it's based in real places and experiences. "It was the best selling of Twain's works during his lifetime and one of the best selling travel books of all time" -Wikipedia. Caveat: it has a lot of things that are now rude and could offend people, as he makes fun of all cultures (including the societies he visits and the American people he is with).

Here are some favorite passages:

...s
...more
Craig Williams
This book is absolutely hilarious! I've always loved Mark Twain, but I've never read any of his non-fiction work. His observations are scathingly sly and funny. As a stand-up comic, I feel it's important to study the works of Twain, as he is widely considered THE first stand-up comic (he made most of his money traveling town-to-town, telling funny anecdotes onstage). This book makes it clear why people would pay to see him speak live, as he is not only a gifted storyteller, but a funny man.

The b...more
Lyndie Blevins
Apr 12, 2013 Lyndie Blevins rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Authors, Travelers, Readers
Recommended to Lyndie by: internet
Book Title The Innocents Abroad
Book Author Mark Twain
Publisher Readers Digest
Pub. Year 1869
Pages 432
Genre Travel 
Ease of Read Moderately easy
ISBN 08957733920


I was attracted to this book because...

I need to research traveling by ship in 1867. This book was the perfect answer to learn about traveling in Europe in this time period, as well as an idea of writing in the time period. Matt Twain went on a Grand Tour of Europe and the Holy Lands in 1867. This book met all my research needs.

This
...more
Alene
Twain's report on his extended vacation through Europe and the Holy land. I loved it, definitely gave new perspective on some places I've been and taught me that apparently, the beauty of Lake Tahoe cannot be surpassed by any European lake : ) Guess I need to see Lake Tahoe since I never have.

Really I loved his humor about the possibility of all the holy places really being where the churches were built for them and the holy relics being authentic. For example, he jokes about how there can be n...more
Alexandria
I read this back in high school and all I can say is

.... oh dear God...why?!

For real, I did not like it. It was slow and boring. I really love Twain's shorter works but not this. It made me fearful to read anything of his works for a while;maybe up until college. If I have the patience to give this another shot, I would. As of now, I don't and would not for some time...or never.
John Harder
Twain’s The Innocents Abroad is a travel book, chronicling the escapades and adventures of the roughly 60 passengers on board the Quaker City. The “pilgrims” shuttled about the Mediterranean with side jaunts through France and the holy land. Twain, as we all are, was a man of his time. This means that he is as filled with the provincial prejudices of his day, but he seems to recognize he prejudices and is able to laugh at himself.

Some passages or gruesomely humorous, such as his account in which...more
Rachel G.
I had no idea this book existed until I found a tattered copy on a bookshelf at my parent's house. I fell in love with it so fast that I went out and bought another of Mark Twain's travel novels. This book should be required reading for every college junior, because despite the 150 year gap, Twain's experiences abroad are just as relevant today as they were then, and ironically, some things haven't changed much. His experience with the snobby French, loud Americans, and sleazy tour guides made m...more
Lissa
For Literature with Lunch -- I enjoyed the book more after I researched "subscription books" and understood that Twain was padding his book contents to make an extra thick book so that people who bought it on subscription would feel like they got their money's worth. I imagine that I would have enjoyed his lecture tours a great deal more than this text -- or an audio version. I kept trying to read this too quickly to get all of the jokes, which are worked into the turn of a phrase -- well, actua...more
Chris Selin
For being a non-fiction work on traveling to Europe, Africa and the Holy Lands all the way back in 1867, this book was incredibly dull. It started out interesting, but ended up being nothing but Twain crabbing about everything and digressing about unrelated moments in his life. Granted, sections of the book did have me googling locations and historical figures to gain more knowledge, so I guess the fact that I learned and revisited subjects learned in the past allows this book a few redeeming qu...more
Bruce Watson
A great summer read, literate, funny, and far reaching. In 1867, Twain joined an unlikely group of tourists for the trip of a lifetime, a steamship cruise through the Mediterranean that took them to all the major capitals of Southern Europe and the Holy Land. But Twain was already Twain, and in reporting on the trip, he could not help but mock the pomposity of the old world and the pretentiousness of the new. His fellow travelers were wags too as they called every guide Ferguson, asked innocent...more
Tess
This is massively entertaining, like everything else Mark Twain wrote. He's just as hilarious in non-fiction as in fiction, and you really relate to him as a traveler: being so exhausted you simply can't enjoy magnificent frescoes anymore, being embarrassed by the other American tourists on the trip (typical embarrassing American tourist behavior apparently isn't a new thing...at all), butchering the names of cities and places, calling every tour guide in every city "Ferguson" for simplicity's s...more
Dee Pierce
Why is this book not required reading in high school or college? What a travesty and colossal mistake! Americans are at the bottom of the list when it comes to knowledge of world geography and we're not much better off in our mastery of world history. In this book, Mark Twain (the great philosopher and storyteller) educates us about planet earth and all of its glory and misery. The amount of geographical and historical data in this manuscript is truly mind-boggling. And, I feel so much smarter...more
Ellan
I expected this to be a mildly entertaining old book, but it turned out to not only contain at least three world famous memes 160 years ahead of its time, but that the comedy in this fantastic travel book simply hilarious. It's got some fantastic long-running gags with soap, barbers, the French and art(reminiscent of Arrested Development)and still provides food for deep reflection about the narrative persona, Americans, Europeans and intercultural relations. The end is a bit more 'spiritual' and...more
Jefferson
Imagine going on a five-month package tour of Europe and the Holy Land in 1867 with a pre-Tom Sawyer Mark Twain--his acerbic wit aimed at tourists, countries, peoples, artifacts, and monuments. One of the most interesting features of Twain's The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim's Progress (1869) is seeing what the world was like back in the 1860s through his eyes: Italy lurching into unification; a prince from Denmark ruling Greece; Napoleon III remodeling France; America completing the trans...more
Shawn Dvorak
Mark Twain was one of my favorite authors but I've never read more than a few short passages from this, his most profitable book, and I resolved to read the whole book. At its core Innocents Abroad is a travel book based on a real trip through Europe and the Middle East that Samuel Clemens took not long after the end of the Civil War. However, the book is by turns satirical, farcical, and flatly insulting. In our current age of political correctness Clemens's unflattering descriptions of the nat...more
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1244
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work...more
More about Mark Twain...
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Prince and the Pauper A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.” 86 likes
“One must travel, to learn. Every day, now, old Scriptural phrases that never possessed any significance for me before, take to themselves a meaning.” 21 likes
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