FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR One country, four languages, 26 cantons, and 7.5 million people (but only 80% of them Swiss): there's nowhere else in Europe like it. Switzerland may be almost 400 km from the nearest drop of seawater, but it is an island at the centre of Europe. Welcome to the landlocked island. Switzerland is the country that not only gave us triangular chocolate and holey cheese, but also the world's first Toilet Duck (1980) and Velcro (1955). A country famous for its punctual trains and strict neutrality - but what lies behind these stereotypes? What does Switzerland look like from the inside? Swiss Watching is a revealing historical journey around Europe's most individual and misunderstood country. From seeking Heidi and finding the best chocolate to reliving a bloody past and exploring an uncertain future, Swiss Watching proves that there's more to Switzerland than banks and skis, francs and cheese. In the land of cultural contradictions, this is a picture of the real and normally unseen Switzerland, a place where the breathtaking scenery shaped a nation not just a tour itinerary, and where tradition is as important as innovation. It's also the story of its people, who have more power than their politicians, but can't speak to one another in the same language - and who own more guns per head than the people of Iraq. As for those national cliches, well, not all the cheese has holes, cuckoo clocks aren't Swiss and the trains don't always run exactly on time. And if you think Roger Federer is the only famous Swiss big cheese, think again!
Diccon Bewes is a travel writer. A world trip set him up for a career in travel writing, via the scenic route of bookselling. After ten years at Lonely Planet and Holiday Which? Magazine, he decamped to Switzerland, where he has managed the Stauffacher English Bookshop in Bern. As well as grappling with German, re-learning to cross the road properly, and overcoming his desire to form an orderly queue, he has spent the last five years exploring this quirky country. See his website at www.dicconbewes.com
A Financial Times Book of Year 2010 " - Bewes has an engagingly light and comic touch" - Clover Stroud, The Sunday Telegraph "Informative and Entertaining." - Harry Ritchie, The Mail on Sunday "It's a real page turner, a treasure trove. Absolutely jam-packed with fascinating facts that really got me thinking." -Margaret Oertig-Davidson, author of Beyond Chocolate "Everything you wanted to know about Switzerland, and then some. Not just a travel book, 'Swiss Watching' is a no-stone-unturned exploration of what makes (and has made) this enigmatic country tick' Peter Kerr, author of the Snowball Orange series of five books