Book Review: Extreme Rambling


Extreme Rambling, by Mark Thomas
Ebury Press, £10.99

This one offers an in-depth take on the Israel/Palestine question packed with pomposity-pricking prose.

Mark Thomas walks a difficult line both literally and philosophically in this chronicle of his stroll along the complete length of the Israeli Separation Barrier.

As lines in the sand go, this is probably the most controversial in the world, separating two impassioned groups.

There's violence woven into every strand of barbed wire. So for a British comedian to indulge his love of rambling seems perverse, perhaps even in poor taste.

Fortunately Thomas, a master at pricking pomposity, keeps his ego in check and lets the characters he meets do the talking.

True, there is some outrage, but this is a story that accurately reflects the complexity of the problems. It's land, it's religion, it's greed, it's history, it's violence, it's human rights, it's pen-pushing civil servants, it's law and it's money.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's two nations convinced of their arguments.

Thomas cuts an odd figure, wandering through the landscape with his trekking poles but somehow he manages to inject a little humour and a lot of heart into the various individuals he encounters.

But there is a great sense of hopelessness here as those passionate characters tear chunks out of each other in the most beautiful of landscapes.

Sadly, the book plods a little, aping Thomas' journey a little too accurately. Nevertheless its a brave and moving piece that's worth picking up.

Read our interview with Mark here.