Ben Coates discovers how the Rhine influenced history.
A captivating mixture of travel and history.
Among the finest multi-destination books is The Rhine . . . Coates's itchy feet paddle him steadily (after a disaster in a rowing boat) on two wheels from Holland (sleeping in dunes), past Utrecht to the German border (Arnhem redolent of war in A Bridge Too Far) to sleepier Bonn. History shimmers across his hinterland, contested in two world wars, and his curiosity - Coates's great strength - unearths the ways in which the river shaped the destinies of those who made its ever changing banks their home.
A piece of nonfiction that's both a travelogue and historic account of how the river shaped Europe.
He conveys well the role of the Rhine in European culture and history: how it has been seen at different times as a "free-flowing conduit for goods, people and ideas" and as a battleground and frontier.
We might question the Rhine being considered 'Europe's greatest river'. But Ben Coates makes a persuasive and entertaining argument for the accolade . . . My eagerness to devour each chapter was dependent less on the overall theme of the book, but almost entirely on Coates' engaging writing style and the playful way he reveals the history of this part of Europe.
What a wonderful surprise. Amazingly talented, Ben Coates fluently uses his metaphoric skills to paint a vibrant portrait of this river's influence in weaving the tapestry of European life. [A] fascinating and compelling story.