On the Road to Damascus and Other Fabulous Thoroughfares
Viking, 320pp, $28 pb
The question remains – where is St John the Baptist’s head? David Dale and Glenn A. Baker are both formidable travellers and reliable chroniclers. Both claim to have been in close proximity to the detached cranium of this biblical hero, but in different countries: Dale in the north of France, Baker in Damascus.
Both of these travel books (Jan Morris, who endorses Baker’s book in glowing terms, once bridled when I described her as a ‘travel writer’) are collections of previously published pieces, although Baker has tossed in a couple of fresh essays. Dale’s ‘The Perfect Journey’ gets an extra tick from this reviewer, since it has an index. A rough calculation indicated that Dale’s book came in at around 74,000 words, and Baker’s at 78,000. I mention this because On the Road to Damascus is a more generously formatted book with double-spaced lines, a boon to ageing eyes or to those who read the Daily Telegraph with their lips moving. The latter would find themselves mumbling some very fine prose and engaging quotes.