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Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  1,137 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
Simon Winchester, struck by a sudden need to discover exactly what was left of the British Empire, set out across the globe to visit the far-flung islands that are all that remain of what once made Britain great. He traveled 100,000 miles back and forth, from Antarctica to the Caribbean, from the Mediterranean to the Far East, to capture a last glint of imperial glory.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 15th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published December 31st 1985)
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Rob Bliss
Jan 29, 2013 Rob Bliss rated it did not like it
He writes well because he's a journalist. But this book falls short in its aim. He wants to travel to the outposts but forgets tons of them. The map shows where they are. He has a chapter on Pitcairn Island but he doesn't go there. It's called "Pitcairn and Other Territories". The other territories are Henderson Island and Ireland. That's right, Ireland.

Which is my main problem with Winchester. He is very English. Always mentions if people living in the outposts have pictures of the Queen and he
Jun 24, 2014 4triplezed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, travel
It has been interesting to read this book 20 years after publication. A very readable mix of history and travel and with that some very interesting events that would pass the reader by generally. There are a couple of very strong chapters, "Tristan", "St Helena" and the "Falklands" for example. "Pitcairn and other territories" just seems an ill fit. The final chapter "Some Reflections" seems dated. The Further reading seems perfunctory.

In the end an easy read so it was never that hard to read p
Nathan Albright
Jan 10, 2016 Nathan Albright rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
Although I am not much of an imperialist myself, I must say that the thought has crossed my mind to do what this esteemed author did, and that is travel to as many as possible of the forlorn remnants of British imperial rule in the mid 1990's, places that occasionally appear in my own blog: the Falkland Islands, Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena, the Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, the (British) Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Bermuda, Ascension Island, the British I ...more
Jul 23, 2013 S. rated it really liked it
Shelves: cheshire
Simon Winchester, b. 1944 London, M.A., Oxford (Geology) 1966, geological exploration Uganda 1967, changes career to journalism 1968, the Guardian, covers the Troubles incl. Bloody Sunday, Watergate, 80s and 90s travel books, mostly Asian, switches to book-writing full-time.

1998 (age 54), first breakthrough blockbuster, The Professor and the Madman about the OED. 2003 best-seller, Krakatoa. 5-6 books about Asia amidst a total output of ~25 books in total.

this 1986 book OUTPOSTS is the most succe
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
Okay, here's the thing: this concept - going around to all the remaining British colonies and writing about the experience? Is AWESOME. Kind of dated now, because Winchester travelled to said colonies in the early 1980s, so the discussion of Hong Kong is now irrelevant and much of the discussion about the Falkland Islands focuses on the beginning of the war. But still awesome.


The writing was almost...too journalistic? This would have been a far more engaging story in the hands of, say,
David Bales
Jan 09, 2012 David Bales rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Brilliant book by one of my favorite authors, Simon Winchester, from 1986 with an updated introduction to the 2003 edition; Winchester seeks out the last remaining remnants of the British Empire, (where the sun once never set) and tells the histories of some of the most obscure and stranger places on the Earth; Gibraltar, Montserrat, the Virgin Islands, St. Helena and Hong Kong are all visited with interesting tales to tell.
Mar 27, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Did I ever really know that all these spread out islands from ocean to ocean were part of the British Empire? No, and apparently very few Brits knew this either.

Simon Winchester researched which significant islands which make up the colonies of the United Kingdom were inhabited and set out to see these, and it took him three years to do them. Because some are so very well neglected, he had to visit several by begging favors to take military transport or coming in by ship with the mail. In one ca
Apr 02, 2008 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Back in 1997, a volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat blew its top, killing 19 people and burying half the island in ash. After the dust had settled, residents of the British protectorate begged London for more aid to rebuild their homes. The UK development minister famously retorted: "They'll be wanting golden elephants next."

Britain's indifference and sometimes outright hostility to its remaining overseas territories is a recurring theme in Simon Winchester's book. His journey to what
Dustin Minarik
May 17, 2017 Dustin Minarik rated it liked it
Some interesting history about far flung places that you normally wouldn't give much thought.
Mark Glover
Oct 19, 2015 Mark Glover rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simon Winchester is one of those rare writers that can take any subject matter and make it interesting, extracting dull history from dusty tomes and restoring it to full colour like an art restorer working on a neglected painting to bring back its vibrancy. I will read any book he writes without fail as I it is thus far a guarantee of a great read.

That said this book is a very early work(Pre Surgeon of Crowthorne) and covers a historical time frame where the Empire as it was known was taking its
Jul 15, 2007 Crystal rated it it was ok
I normally enjoy travel writing, especially when it involved obscure destinations. So Outposts seemed like a perfect book for me. But I was incorrect.
How best to explain? How about the fact that I was one book short of my personal reading goal for 2014, and had the least pages left in this partially finished book out of all the ones I'd already started. So I sat down New Year's Eve, Outposts in hand, to ring in the New Year properly. In under an hour, I was asleep on the sofa, by 8:30pm and did
Sep 14, 2013 Jordan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, europe
What an exciting premise for a book: one last look at Britain's remaining territories, now known as the British Overseas Territories. These are places so small and so many and yet so far apart that the Sun never does set on Britain's territories.

I loved reading this. The writing style appealed to me, as did the history lessons liberally sprinkled throughout the book. Winchester seems to harbour a romantic ideal of what the Empire was--something once run by people who cared and officials who trie
Artur Coelho
Apr 26, 2011 Artur Coelho rated it liked it
Ao dealbar do século XX, o sol não se punha nos vastos domínios do império britânico. No final do mesmo século, com Hong Kong prestes a ser devolvida à China, ainda é legítimo dizer o mesmo, embora das vastas extensões territoriais americanas, africanas e asiáticas apenas reste uma enorme lista de pequenos territórios na sua maior parte desabitados, símbolos de um poderio desvanecido. É uma busca destes vestígios imperiais que Winchester se propõe neste livro encantador, com uma regra: de fora f ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
his is an intriguing book of a journey to the remnants of what remains of the British Empire, about 30 years ago. Beginning seemingly out of curiosity sake, the book is a travelogue of over a 100,000 miles to the edges of the inhabited earth. Unfortunately, some of the writing is now dated, and unfortunately for the residents of these far flung minor colonies, many of the concerns about them have not been addressed.

Winchester, a British writer and journalist, living in New England, undertook a j
Sep 13, 2016 Bruce rated it really liked it
I read " Outposts" a few years ago. In it Simon Winchester visits all the " outpost" islands under the British domain. I thought it was an interesting book, and his description of some of these enormously distant islands is incredible.
I've read several of his books; he is obviously a very intelligent man, and most of all makes you both think and appreciate the world in which we live.
Nov 30, 2008 Wendell rated it liked it
Outposts is perhaps the oddest of Winchester’s many books; surely it is the most melancholy. The three years of journeys that were required to complete the book—which took Winchester to dozens of far-flung destinations spattered across the globe—were apparently both exhausting and disheartening. Or, perhaps we should dispense with the word “apparently”: Winchester makes his exhaustion (with the travel, with the topic) and his disappointment more than clear. His typical humor is largely absent an ...more
Bryan Crossland
Feb 09, 2017 Bryan Crossland rated it really liked it
Fascinating book about the reamaining British colonies. I suspect most of us would imagine that they were all in wonderful shape, wonderfully British and all the subject satissfied with their lot. Simon takes us on a fascinating journey mixing in a bit of history (not enough in my opinion) and present day state (albeit present day in this book is the late 80s). Although I would have liked more historical backgroundthis would have bogged down the book. It was a suprisingly easy read and very enjo ...more
Jerry Smith
Winchester writes fluidly and with wit and enthusiasm as well as a depth of researched knowledge on his topic of choice. This book is no exception although the subject matter is of considerably less weight than many others he has tackled.

That said, this is an entertaining (for a Brit anyway) look at the last surviving relics of the British Empire including Hong Kong at the time of writing. Obviously the world has changed since this was penned.

As I say, interesting and encouraging of further res
Aug 06, 2013 Deb rated it liked it
I enjoyed this read. Where would I learn about these obscure islands and the people who persist on living in such isloation, but in such beautiful places. Very interesting. Certainly got the feeling that I went around the world. Plus, there were some great sailing / adventure stories. It was a challenge to understand how people can choose such isolation, such a laid-back life, and such little ambition. I want to understand those life choices, but it is a challenge for me.

The book reinforced my s
Apr 10, 2013 Cheryl rated it liked it
This was a really interesting look at not only the far-flung bits of the British Empire but also the way the passage of time has changed humanity's ability to relate to each other. It is rather appalling that the powers that were in London could treat the majority of the colonies so poorly, even today, such as denying automatic British citizenship to people who live in St. Helena and Pitcairn and etc, but not Gibraltar and the Falklands, where the people are predominantly white. I have always kn ...more
Apr 29, 2015 Heep rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads is a great example of the intelligence of crowds. The rating for this book is 3.71 (at least it is as of the time I write this review). It is a perfect rating because the book is very enjoyable in a nostalgic way. It really doesn't deserve 4 stars because it is a little over-long, and too much 1980s moralizing at the end. The author has since done much better, and is now a terrific author of popular histories and books about far-away places (at least they seem so to me). This book desc ...more
Jun 20, 2011 JackieB rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
This confused me at first, but then I caught on. I think Simon Winchester wanted to be an explorer, like the explorers in Victorian times. He wanted to overcome hardship and difficulty during his travels and find something wonderful and exotic at the end of them. For example, how did he travel to Gibraltar? Fly to Tangiers and get a boat over the straits (i.e. the usual route in the 80's)? No, he tried to recreate part of an epic journey made on foot by Britsh author in the 1930's. This was doom ...more
Nov 15, 2007 Eric rated it really liked it
Winchester is an interesting writer, to be sure. This book comes out of a conversation he apparently had with some friends over dinner back in the 1980s. The group was trying to recall what, at that time, was still a part of the British Empire. Winchester set out on a journey to visit every place still a part of the Empire.

Many islands, really chunks of rocks in the ocean, were (and are) still part of the empire. Winchester does a pretty evenhanded job of discussing the historical relevance of h
Jun 03, 2014 Wendy rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction-adult
The concept of this book is terrific- travelling to all of the remaining colonies and territories of the British Empire. The writing, however, is a little dry. It is worth reading, but don't expect a real page-turner. The book was reprinted in 2003/2004, but was not updated in any way for the huge changes that happened world-wide in those years. About 32 countries came into existence during that time period. For people old enough to remember the mid-eighties, you can just keep reminding yourself ...more
Oct 18, 2015 Sharron rated it really liked it
Diego Garcia,Tristan da Cunha, Ascension Island, Gibraltar, St. Helena, Hong Kong, Bermuda, the British West Indies (including the Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, Cayman Islands) , the Falkland Islands, and the Pitcairn Islands are the surviving relics referenced here. In this astounding array of places that Simon Winchester visited and wrote about are places I've been to (all too few), places I know all too little about, and places I'd never even heard of ...more
Sep 29, 2012 Diane rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
The subtitle tells the story: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire. Winchester writes of his visits to the remaining 12 British colonies – all islands and many rather difficult to visit. Although a ardent anti-colonist, I enjoyed learning the history of the colonies. But, overall it is typical of the bad Winchester books. Some of his books are wonderful (e.g., The Man Who Loved China) but when Winchester intrudes too much into his own writing, the results are boring. I finally ...more
Aug 19, 2013 Alice rated it liked it
The author does come across as rather paternalistic and pro empire but he seems to have had a good adventure, and I liked reading about the islands he visited.

On many occasions he meets people he knew from school or is somehow related to, placing him firmly establishment, no wonder he is so attached to the idea that the empire was kind and caring and knew best for its subjects.

The bits that have really dated in this book are when he refers to Richard Branson as 'a record producer' rather than
Apr 21, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, britain
I had a tough time getting through this one.  Winchester's goal was to travel to all of the remaining colonial outposts still under British rule (as of the 1980's when he wrote the book).  In each chapter, Winchester introduced a different colony, telling about it's history and current state of affairs, plus he throws in his adventures in getting to these places and his experiences there. 

I usually love his travelogue writing style, but unfortunately, he rambled too much in this one.  Also, for
Oct 09, 2012 Popup-ch rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
More light-hearted than Winchesters other books, this work relates his travels to the remaining parts of the British Empire, such as Tristan da Cunha, the Pitcairn Islands, the British Indian Ocean Territories and the British Virgin Islands.

Technically it's still true that the sun never sets in the British Domain. By the time the sun goes down in Cornwall, it's already high noon in the Caribbean colonies of Anguilla and others, as well as the Falklands. And when it's evening there, it's still l
Dec 22, 2013 Johnp rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013, travel
Simon Winchester has really come up with an extraordinary idea – capture what life is like in many of the forgotten lands still possessed by the British Empire. This book would be akin to comedy if the stories were not completely true! We watch as the author circles the globe, visiting well-known locales, such as Gibraltar and Saint Helena. However, the real beauty of this book is his visits to such unknown habitats as the British Indian Ocean Territory, Tristan da Cunha, and Ascension Island.

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Simon Winchester, OBE, is a British writer, journalist and broadcaster who resides in the United States. Through his career at The Guardian, Winchester covered numerous significant events including Bloody Sunday and the Watergate Scandal. As an author, Simon Winchester has written or contributed to over a dozen nonfiction books and authored one novel, and his articles appear in several travel publ ...more
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