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The Innocents Abroad

Mark Twain

Book Overview: 

When you dive into Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, you have to be ready to learn more about the unadorned, ungilded reality of 19th century “touring” than you might think you want to learn. This is a tough, literary journey. It was tough for Twain and his fellow “pilgrims”, both religious and otherwise. They set out, on a June day in 1867, to visit major tourist sites in Europe and the near east, including Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, “the Holy Land”, and Egypt. What Twain records, in often humorous, sometimes grotesque but always fascinating detail, are the day-to-day ups and downs of discovering the truth about people and places. The truths they learn are often far different than their education and rumor have made them preconceive.

This is a voyage of discovery. It’s long and, in places, tiresome. But it’s revelatory about so much. As with some of his other works, Twain includes popular prejudices of his time, which are today considered socially unacceptable. His references to “Indians”, “Negroes” and “infidels” come to mind.

Beyond the lows, though, there are the highs of Twain’s cutting wit and insight as he guides us along the bumpy and often dangerous voyage.

No need to buckle up. Just take it slow, and steady…like the journey itself.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Everybody got out of the way; everybody bowed to the Emperor and his friend the Sultan; and they went by on a swinging trot and disappeared.

I will not describe the Bois de Boulogne. I can not do it. It is simply a beautiful, cultivated, endless, wonderful wilderness. It is an enchanting place. It is in Paris now, one may say, but a crumbling old cross in one portion of it reminds one that it was not always so. The cross marks the spot where a celebrated troubadour was waylaid and murdered in the fourteenth century. It was in this park that that fellow with an unpronounceable name made the attempt upon the Russian Czar's life last spring with a pistol. The bullet struck a tree. Ferguson showed us the place. Now in America that interesting tree would be chopped down or forgotten within the next five years, but it will be treasured here. The guides will point it out to visitors for the next eight hundred years, and when it decays and falls down they will put up anot. . . Read More

Community Reviews

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 r...more

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 Feynman whom everyone agreed...more

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 page...more

First sentence: For months the great pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land was chatted about in the newspapers everywhere in America and discussed at countless firesides.

Premise/plot: The Innocents Abroad is a nonfiction travel book by Mark Twain. According to the copy I read, "it was th...more

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...more

I love certain travel books, ones that give you an inspiring window on places you’ve never been or want to revisit while holding a humbling mirror up to the perspective and culture of the traveler. “Innocents Abroad” is a classic that fulfills this goal nicely and a fun read to boot. In 1867, the...more

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 beau...more

(APRIL '15) Absolutely excellent book - knew Twain was a great storyteller, but forgot what a good writer he is, too. That said, I'm halfway through (he's just finished Europe and heading to the Middle East), and so going to take a break before continuing. This is beautifully written - and hyster...more

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...more

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