cover image Previous Convictions: Assignments from Here and There

Previous Convictions: Assignments from Here and There

A. A. Gill. Simon & Schuster, $15 (307pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-7249-7

In this boisterous, profane and unfortunately lopsided travelogue, British author and columnist Gill (The Angry Island) unleashes caustic opinions from 32 spots, both ""Here"" (the UK) and ""There"" (everywhere else). From Haiti to Oman, Brazil to Vietnam, Gill's vivid, vigorous prose-especially in his uproarious verb choices-enchants and enthralls. The author's powers of description are also keen, transporting readers to the ""brilliant, benighted, argumentative, inspiring"" Calcutta, as well as the ""stamped on, bitten, battered and clawed"" post-war Baghdad. At times Gill becomes preachy (""Travel should question, not confirm""), and occasionally offensive (""What's in it for female suicide bombers? The promise of seventy adolescent virgin blokes?""), but he also educates from the less-traveled corners of the world (Pakistan, Sudan, Greenland and others), albeit with a guilty sense of awareness. As a whole, Gill is far more interesting when reporting from ""There,"" demanding careful attention from an international audience; dispatches from ""Here,"" though they may appeal to a British audience, don't quite measure up.