01 May 2008

Bradt Travel Guide to Iraq - unexplained

Bradt Travelguide to Iraq, 2nd editionHow frustrating! I was sitting in my car listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning feeling very sorry for the peeps at Bradt Travelguides as a rare opportunity for good publicity on primetime national radio was flushed down the toilet.

Bradt have just updated their guide to Iraq, which they first published in 2002, a few months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It was a bad interview (at 8.51am if you want to listen to it) that never got off the ground. Sarah Montague never moved on from her first and pretty much only question: variations on: "is it a guide for tourists?". The author, Karen Dabrowska, just got hopelessly bogged down in a dour academic explanation of the subject matter.

So the audience never really got a feel for the fact that this was a timely book from a publisher that has a reputation for covering off-the-beaten-track destinations, and that it was never intended to be a practical tourist guide, more a sort of stocktaking inventory of what lay in the cradle of civilisation between the Tigris and the Euphrates....before the Americans started bombing it.

Bradt Travelguide to Iraq, 1st editionNor was it explained that far from being a failure in terms of sales - something you might expect for a guidebook aimed at non-existant tourists - it sold very well, and there is anecdotal evidence that many copies were taken to Iraq in the hands of military personel, security services and NGOs. (A case of: "Wait a minute gunner. Before we put a tank round into that minaret, let me just check the Bradt guide to see if it is a historic monument!")

The publication of the 1st edition triggered a certain amount of respect and admiration from the travel and publishing trades for Hilary Bradt and her team. Sadly
Karen Dabrowska's interview made them look ridiculous.





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