Book Review – Swiss Watching

Are you new to Switzerland or have you been living here for quite sometime, but still can’t figure out the Swiss? Pick up the recently published book Swiss Watching: Inside Europe's Landlocked Islandby British Expat Diccon Bewes. Armed with his experience as a travel writer, keen curiosity and a GA, Mr. Bewes sought to uncover the real Switzerland, what makes it tick and what keeps this country of contradictions together.Of all the English books I’ve read on Switzerland this one has been one of the most enjoyable. Be it from a brief and concise history of the country - with which the reader will be armed for many discussions with native Swiss people - to a discussion of the Swiss red shoe fetish, Mr. Bewes’ writing style is informative, attentive and witty. These features make the book a pleasure to read and will help many to better understand the Swiss mindset and their, at times, odd behaviour. The book

is marked by a degree of British irony and sarcasm, which should bring a smile to most readers’ faces. Page 243 might have you swallow hard or laugh out loud. I did the latter.rather enjoyed the amount of actual experienced research that Mr. Bewes details his book with. Together with his taking on less traditional topics of discussion makes Swiss Watching: Inside Europe's Landlocked Island stick out from the pile of books written by foreigners about Switzerland. When it comes to taboo topics, Mr. Bewes tackles them in an informed way providing historical and cultural context and allows the reader to make his own opinion. On the whole he writes in a very neutral manner.My one concern in the book is the language information offered. Where a great deal is painted with a brush of “Swissisms”, they are actually general German issues. By this I mean the same thing applies to German spoken in Germany and Austria. The word “Handy” for instance is actually the German word for mobile telephone and doescome from the never actually established English term “handie talkie” which was also a synonym for “walkie-talkie”. In Switzerland mobiles are generally called Natels, which comes from the establishment of Switzerland’s national wireless network in 1975 (Nationales AutoTELefon).The book is well worth a read for anyone interested in understanding Switzerland and it’s people. Having taught at a Kantonsschule, I would go so far as to suggest that this book be used in either a history class or advanced English class, as reading it would help the Swiss to better understand themselves. For new comers to Zurich, I would also recommend Zürich for Newcomers by Barbara Milne. (ISBN: 978-3-280-05161-0) Swiss Watching Inside Europe’s Landlocked Island by Diccon Bewes. (ISBN: 978-1-85788-548-4) Looking for a good English Bookshop in Zurich? I've recently discovered Pile of Books - Great selection, friendly service and the best prices. (Written by Christian Langenegger, co-founder of Marathon Sprachen in Winterthur www.marathonlanguages.com)


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