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Another Great Walk with Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart following Hadrian’s Wall

 

Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between, his personal account of his long trek across Afghanistan in 2002 in winter, made me a fan.  What a remarkable book! I thought then and still believe now. Having read more exploration and travel adventure books by 18th and 19th century authors [a disproportionate number of them authors from Great Britain] than I care to remember for research on other projects, I don’t usually read that kind of book for pleasure.

I may have rationalized buying it on grounds that it was work-related since I was working for the Association of the United States Army then.  I know I did that in reading his Prince of Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq as a British diplomat. His father, Brian, spent years in the dying days of the empire following World War II as a British diplomat about the Pacific Rim, often countering Communist insurgencies. His father, an officer in the Tyneside Scottish Battalion of the Black Watch, landed in Normandy on D-Day.  After his time as a diplomat, he was also a spy, a businessman, an intellect obsessed with local histories — including his own presumed Scots heritage, cultures and languages.

Stewart’s latest, The Marches, A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland, is of those earlier works.  This time, following Hadrian’s Wall to discover the differences between the two peoples [several years before the vote on whether to stay or leave the United Kingdom], spend time with his father, etc.  By the time of this journey, Rory Stewart, who also served in Black Watch, was a Conservative Party Member of Parliament, whose constituency straddled the border.

As he wrote for Marches, “I’ve never been good at explaining why I go on long walks.  The truth, I think, is I believe walks are miracles — which can let me learn like nothing else, about a nation, or myself — helping me solve disappointments, personal and political.”

This journey is another one well worth taking with Stewart.

 

 

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