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Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  1,035 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Great writer's 1897 account of circumnavigating the globe by steamship. Brimming with ironic, tongue-in-cheek humor, the book describes shark fishing in Australia, riding the rails in India, tiger hunting, diamond mining in South Africa, much more; also peoples, climate, flora and fauna, customs, religion, politics, food, etc. 197 illustrations.
Paperback, 712 pages
Published September 1st 1989 by Dover Publications (first published January 1st 1897)
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Jul 08, 2007 Frederick rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Mark Twain, and those who study Imperialism
Shelves: humor, travelogues, twain
If anybody tells you Mark Twain wasn't a liberal, find this book, put it in your posession and read every other chapter outloud to that person. Written rather late in his life (1891 or so), this is Twain's nonfiction account of a trip on a passenger ship around the equator. He writes a chapter describing a comic incident aboard ship and then the next chapter is a sober indictment of man's inhumanity to man. The chapters on Australia are most telling. He sees the Australia's treatment of Aborigin ...more
John Otto
May 22, 2010 John Otto rated it really liked it
I feel sorry for folks whose exposure to Mark Twain is limited to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Although those are good books, I really love his travel writing. Following the Equator is not a book you would want to read to find out the best route to take, the best places to eat and sleep or what to see. But, it is a book to read if you enjoy sardonic humor, with Twain's wry comments about what he sees. One surprising thing to me, given Twain's causal use of racial slurs is his outrage at how ...more
Aug 09, 2007 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can hardly imagine anything better than traveling the globe with Mark Twain. His wit and keen powers of observation were abundantly apparent. Sadly, so was his prejudice; although, one must remember that this was written in an entirely different time, and that, thankfully most people have become more evolved and educated since then. One also has to remember that, as Twain reminds us himself in the book, he was brought up during slavery, to accept slavery and denigration of those of different e ...more
Oct 28, 2016 Marti rated it liked it
I guess there is a reason this compilation is not as well known as Innocents Abroad or A Tramp Abroad. Although it is not mentioned in the text, if I remember right, this was a low point for Twain. The yearlong trip was occasioned by near bankruptcy and comprised a seemingly endless series of lectures encompassing cities in Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa (and other island communities along the way); this a result of his famously bad business deals.

Therefore, this was not exactly a
Bob Schnell
I'm normally a big fan of Mark Twain's travelogues, but "Following the Equator" is my least favorite so far. It is a mixed bag of anecdotes, sparse journal entries, descriptions of historical battles, observations (politically incorrect ones in these times) of race, dress, cultural touchstones, religion and nature along with various miscellaneous chapters that don't fit any category. Many of the things described were new to his readers at the time but today they are a bit old hat. What is really ...more
Jason Pettus
(In October 2015, my arts center had a chance to sell a first edition, first printing of Mark Twain's "Following the Equator." [Want to see if it's still for sale? Visit .] Below is the write-up I did of it for the eBay listing.)

By 1894 Mark Twain was already famous but was also almost completely broke, because of a bad series of investments in futuristic technology that would've never been able to work at the time they were being invented (he sunk what would
Feb 21, 2016 Steve rated it liked it
I finished reading Following the Equator or More Tramps Abroad by Mark Twain. I’m getting down to the last decade plus of Twain’s life, and if he has no more great fiction in him, he still has plenty left to say. Unless the equator in 1896 was considerably more erratic than it is today, this travelogue of a trip to Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa (with a few smaller stops here and there) doesn’t exactly live up to its title. But Twain’s observations are fascinating, as always, an ...more
I had the impression that Twain was acerbic. Instead, I found him curious, respectful but no fraidy-cat either. His criticisms are wrapped in such wry humour, I think it would be difficult for his worst enemy not to laugh - at himself. My opinion of him shot skyward after reading this book. There is so much chatty information and wit in FTE that I am at a loss where to begin. Okay - loved the bit about the passengers watching dolphins covered with bioluminescence racing and diving through the da ...more
Oct 11, 2010 Maria rated it really liked it
Shelves: humorous
As usual, a highly entertaining account of Twain travels. This time he travels through the Pacific - Australia, New Zealand, India, Africa mainly - with stops at various islands and smaller countries. The chapters on India were disturbing, detailing murder and suicide in the late 19th century there. My India history is somewhat vague. I had a general idea but the specifics were hard to take. Also hard to take were all of the chapters dealing with the white man's subjugation of black natives - Au ...more
Sep 28, 2010 Tony rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Twain, Mark. FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR. (1897). *****. Here’s the Twain I know and love. Maybe because he is truly seeing some things for the first time, he is capable of being more inventive. His voyage this time follows the path of various British colonies or possessions including Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa. Of course there are other stops along the way. Twain was not a patient traveler. Delays were aimed at him personally, as were bad meals and accomodations. All of these thin ...more
Jan 04, 2011 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook-color
For my first book on my brand new nook color, I thought I would start with one of the books that I have always wanted to read, but could never find a copy. Reading it would be a new experience.

I enjoyed this book. I have always enjoyed Twain's nonfiction-- or whatever you want to call it-- immensely. This one stood up to the earlier ones that I've read until about three-quarters the way through where it moves into an essay about South African politics much like his essay on the Congo and King L
Feb 25, 2015 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Five stars because it's by Mark Twain, whom I love and trust pretty much unconditionally.

In his travel writing, Twain can be relied upon to cast upon humanity and its works a fresh, amused (or scornful), clear-eyed gaze. Except, it seems, Australia. No traveller has ever entertained so many pleasant illusions about this place. I wonder what we paid him?

(But he was scathing about the use of indentured labour on the cane fields).
This is one of my favourite books by Mark Twain and it is interesting to compare this with his youthful account of his voyage on the “Quaker City“ (“The Innocents Abroad”, 1869) with its freshness, boisterousness, irreverence and total political incorrectness.

“Following the Equator” (1897) is the work of an older, wiser, more thoughtful and philosophical Mark Twain and he has never written more beautiful prose; the chapters on India are priceless.

There is humour, of course, but he doesn’t go ov
Paul Peterson
Jun 10, 2015 Paul Peterson rated it really liked it
Mr. Twain was still poignant, but not cynical at this writing. Very witty and, at times, almost breathtaking in descriptive ability. Most of this Volume II is set in India, whereas most of Volume I took place in Hawaii, and is just as illuminating as was the first.

If you are a Twain fan but haven't read "Following the Equator" yet, please do.
Aug 27, 2008 Meg rated it it was amazing
Twain had such amazing abilities to see things as they really first and favorite travelogue.
Feb 22, 2008 Dad rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
The guy was a genius- read it. And what a sense of humor!
Jefferson Fortner
Following the Equator is the last book of Twain’s travel writings that I have read, and I think the last one available to me. I have basically now read all of Twain's travel writings, as far as I am certain. Following the Equator is also probably the least interesting in large sections, but not entirely. I read and greatly enjoyed The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It. To a lesser degree I also enjoyed Life on the Mississippi and A Tramp Abroad. Life on the Mississippi and Roughing It are, of cou ...more
Jim Bilbro
I found this book to be a bit of a slog inasmuch as Twain's trademark anecdotes and wry humor, while entertaining, couldn't sustain my attention when stretched over nearly 400 pages. On the other hand, a more thorough-going condemnation of racism and racist imperialism from the 19th century would likely be hard to find, and these passages were stuperlative. There are numerous witty anecdotes and quotable quotes, but the book seems to meander much as his journey did, and the mixture of warm prais ...more
Ellen Harney
Goodreads Q3 Ellen Harney A3

Following the Equator is a travelogue of Mark Twain’s experiences while sailing around the world. Twain is constantly pushing the idea of travel within his literature. The use of travel allows the reader to not only transport their imagination, but it also sparks an interest in the destination. The author, Mark Twain, bluntly reveals the way that the world works, moves, and behaves. This is to provide the reader with an image of Twain’s experiences. This excerpt from
Dean Lisle
Oct 04, 2016 Dean Lisle rated it really liked it
Thorough account of travels from Hawaii to New Zealand to India and stops around the world.
Apr 02, 2013 Clivemichael rated it liked it
Long and drawn out adventure as he circles the globe to read his works and lecture. His observations in India stood out for me, but he tends to go off on tangents that frequently have nothing to do with his , in that moment, location. His political, racial and gender perspectives during that time though were an interesting window on the world.
Some quotations: "December 17 Reached Sydney(Australia)December 19. In the train. Fellow of 30...with teeth which made his mouth look like a neglected chu
Oct 14, 2016 Lisa marked it as to-read
I've not heard of this Mark Twain book before stumbling upon this book. It's long and I doubt if I'll finish it (audio) before I need to return it so I'll finish it when I can check it out again. The consummate story teller....for sure. I could envision him sitting on the ship, writing in cursive. The book's a memoir and his humor, sarcasm and unique way of capturing humans is evident in this book as in all his others. I appreciated that he drew attention to the traders' who "employed" native pe ...more
Marianne Villanueva
Apr 26, 2016 Marianne Villanueva rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-books
I didn't think there was ANY Mark Twain I hadn't read until I heard of this one. I've only got a few more pages to read. All in all, the book was a little uneven. It's still got that biting Mark Twain humor, and he certainly wears his heart on his sleeve. The description of the leper colony on Molokai and the attitudes towards the Australian aborigines were stand-outs for me. I also howled at the story of how he got invited to participate in a book club that had a monthly newsletter, discussion ...more
Seamus Thompson
Oct 21, 2015 Seamus Thompson rated it liked it

Overall, just okay (**) but there are enough moments that I really liked (****) or found amazing (*****) that I think a three-star rating is more accurate.

There are lots of gems here and many of the aphorisms that begin each chapter (attributed to Puddd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar) are masterpieces but, at the end of the day, I have to confess that Twain's brand of humor tends to grow tiresome for me -- especially in a book this long. Having tried the print edition years ago, I listened to the a
For the most I really enjoyed this book. It was wry and ironic in a way that only Twain could be. It was also empathetic and reflective, and full of interesting little anecdotes. The origins of the word 'thug' were particularly interesting to read about.

The main issue I had with the book is that it tended to go on long tangents that weren't particularly interesting, and at times it felt like a slog getting through it. Additionally, it was sometimes hard to work out where Twain's tongue-in-cheek
Nov 17, 2013 Molly rated it liked it
This book is a non fiction account of Twain's journey around the world around the turn of the 20th century. He couples stories about his journey and the various destinations he visits with essays relating to his personal beliefs on a variety of issues relating to those experiences. It is interesting, from a travel nerd's perspective, to appreciate how very much was involved in long distance and trans-oceanic travel in these days, and also to get a feel for how much of a liberal Twain was. Unfort ...more
Deon Stonehouse
Feb 11, 2013 Deon Stonehouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-essay
Anything by Mark Twain is worth reading just for the joy of his writing. Twain was an ardent traveler, in 1897 he set out to circle the world. Hawaii, India, Africa, Australia and New Zealand are wild, beautiful places when Twain visits. It is an era when the sun does not set on The British Empire. His trip is not so long past the Indian Uprising of 1857, when the country ran red with blood. Memsahibs are a nervous lot. He is not impressed with the effects the missionaries are having on local cu ...more
John Harder
Jan 03, 2014 John Harder rated it it was amazing
As I recall from watching videos during the Walk For Mankind campaigns that Indian (from India, not our locally grown crop) children apply sugar around their eyes to attract flies and look more pitiful. 100 year ago when Twain visited, it must have been even worse, with flies being more plentiful and not nearly as educated as our modern flies. Why he would want to go to such a place, I don’t know. But off he went and I am glad he did.

If the corpse is still relatively fresh, Twain could make a de
Jan 26, 2011 Jed rated it really liked it
Twain is a delightful companion. This rambling remembrance of his round-the-world lecture tour with his wife & daughter charms & engrosses with the same warm, empathetic, critical, chuckling mind that informs his fiction.

There is only one trait that is hard to take. Twain was an unmitigated apologist for Western imperialism. He displays not the slightest understanding of why the "natives" might fail to appreciate the gifts of order & "civilization" bestowed by their conquerors.

I ca
Adam Geisler
Apr 19, 2014 Adam Geisler rated it liked it
Twain constructed this travelogue over the course of several trips to different locales, most of which have some connection to the British empire. That turns out to be part of the problem with this collection. While he seemed to champion reason in his home country, he got caught up in a rather colonialist attitude in his foreign journeys. There are, of course, flashes of his brilliant writing throughout. However, this volume could have used the hand of a gifted editor. Chapters are often disjoin ...more
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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
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“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” 5275 likes
“There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.” 548 likes
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