Historian, travel writer and journalist
Innocence and War: Mark Twain's Holy Land Revisited
In 1867 the Daily Alta California commissioned Mark Twain to cover the story of the world's first luxury cruise, a six month round tour to the Holy Land from New York. The captain, crew and passengers on board were highly respectable Presbyterians on a mission to pilgrim; the Holy Land was under loosening Islamic Ottoman control. The interchangeable infidels and zealots on both sides saw Mark Twain as a distracting influence, and he saw them as wonderful source material for comments on the folly of the human phenomenon. The resulting book, The Innocents Abroad, was his best-selling book during his lifetime and is still in print today.
In 2010 Ian Strathcarron followed Mark Twain and his caravanserai as it swayed across the Holy Land. The two writers' contrasting adventures and observations are told in his book, Innocence and War; Mark Twain's Holy Land Revisited. Lord Strathcarron's revisit followed their exact route through what is now Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the West Bank/Palestine - with diplomatic diversions by sea on his yacht, home and study, Vasco da Gama.
Travel in the Holy Land was troublesome in 1867; it is troublesome still. In lands where the religious is political and the political religious, the two authors both suffered for their causes – and only sometimes laughed them off. Lord Strathcarron's lecture is about the making of both books and features photographs and videos from the tour and excerpts from the books, which share a sardonic view of the unholy mess that is the Holy Land.
Lord Strathcarron is a travel writer, publisher, mediator and counselor. He was educated at Eton College and Grenoble University. He spent ten years in Asia working for Time-Life and as a freelance foreign correspondent. In 1970 he founded Japan Europa Press Agency in Tokyo which he later sold to Reuters. More recently he has written the spy thrillers Invisibility and Black Beach, and the historical travel works, Joy Unconfined! Lord Byron's Grand Tour Re-Toured, Innocence and War; Mark Twain's Holy Land Revisited and The Indian Equator; Mark Twain's India Revisited. He is now completing the third part of a Mark Twain travel trilogy Heart of Lightness, Mark Twain's Mississippi Revisited. When not writing, he owns the art book publisher Unicorn Press Ltd and has a conflict resolution mediation and counseling practice.