Diccon Bewes

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Diccon Bewes

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Member Since
February 2012


Average rating: 3.81 · 1,485 ratings · 195 reviews · 11 distinct worksSimilar authors
Swiss Watching: Inside Euro...

3.83 avg rating — 1,163 ratings — published 2010 — 15 editions
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Slow Train to Switzerland: ...

3.75 avg rating — 278 ratings — published 2013 — 8 editions
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How to be Swiss.

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3.69 avg rating — 13 ratings
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Around Switzerland in 80 Maps

4.45 avg rating — 11 ratings2 editions
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Swisscellany

3.75 avg rating — 12 ratings — published 2012 — 5 editions
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False Friends: 51 Ways to B...

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le swissologue

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Le Suissologue: Un regard a...

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Immer schön langsam: Eine Z...

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瑞士做到的事

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3.50 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 2010
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“The Swiss are rich but like to hide it, reserved yet determined to introduce themselves to everyone, innovative but resistant to change, liberal enough to sanction gay partnerships but conservative enough to ban new minarets. And they invented a breakfast cereal that they eat for supper. Privacy is treasured but intrusive state control is tolerated; democracy is king, yet the majority don’t usually vote; honesty is a way of life but a difficult past is reluctantly talked about; and conformity is the norm, yet red shoes are bizarrely popular.

It is perhaps no surprise that the Swiss are contradictory, given how divided their country is. Since its earliest days Switzerland has faced geographic, linguistic, religious and political divisions that would have destroyed other countries at birth. Those divisions have been bridged, though not without bloodshed, but Switzerland remains as paradoxical as its people. While modern technology drives the economy, some fields are still harvested with scythes (all the hilly landscape’s fault); it’s a neutral nation yet it exports weapons to many other countries; it has no coastline but won sailing’s America’s Cup and has a merchant shipping fleet equal in size to Saudi Arabia’s. As for those national stereotypes, well, not all the cheese has holes, cuckoo clocks aren’t Swiss and the trains don’t always run exactly on time.”
Diccon Bewes, Swiss Watching: Inside Europe's Landlocked Island

“Mercenary armies were abolished in the new Swiss federal constitution of 1848, although existing contracts were still honoured (how very correct) until the government banned all forms of fighting for money in 1859. The sole survivor of the bloody practice is the Pope’s Swiss Guard, which has been protecting his Holiness since 1506. To serve in Rome, the men must be under 30, over 1.74m tall, single and have completed their Swiss military service. Being both Swiss and Catholic are somewhat essential as well.”
Diccon Bewes, Slow Train to Switzerland: One Tour, Two Trips, 150 Years and a World of Change Apart

“Railways ushered in an era of faster, cheaper mass transport – 25 million passengers in 1880, 240 million in 1910 – but for many Swiss it was still out of reach financially. What was affordable for British visitors was a luxury for locals. Transport history centre Via Storia reckons that most of those 240 million passengers were tourists and the small layer of Swiss society with money, but the middle classes could at least contemplate a trip for the first time; not often or far, but a possibility, although in third class most likely, as first class was double the price, and mountain trains were even more expensive. Someone from Zurich might manage a day trip once a year to Lake Lucerne or to another Swiss city, one that had probably been an economic rival until then.”
Diccon Bewes, Slow Train to Switzerland: One Tour, Two Trips, 150 Years and a World of Change Apart




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