Book reviews

The official opinions

“Europe’s landlocked island is a great subject for a cultural anthropologist and Bewes, manager of an English language bookshop in Bern, is a perfect guide” A Financial Times Book of the Year 2010

“Diccon Bewes has the Bryson touch,  informing and entertaining readers with his observations, considerable knowledge and love for this little known country.” Book of the Month for July 2010

“He is one of those Anglo-Saxon authors who describe foreign countries with a mix of loving irony and a well trained eye for eccentricity.” Die Zeit

“Swiss Watching is a balm for Switzerland’s battered image; a love letter from a foreigner to his adopted home.” Tages Anzeiger

“With ‘Swiss Watching’ Diccon Bewes has achieved a book that holds surprising insights about the Swiss, and not just for foreigners.” Berner Zeitung

“Engagingly light and comic… [Swiss Watching] will make you smile.” Sunday Telegraph 

“The author’s observations are insightful, with a sure eye for comic or exotic details, and described with typically English humour.” Der Bund

 “A fascinating book, teeming with facts, figures, and anecdotes which even the Swiss don’t know. A journalist, anthropologist and satirist, Diccon Bewes gives us a book that is serious without being academic and funny without ever falling into caricature.” L’Hebdo

“Written in a witty, wry style familiar to anyone who has read any Bill Bryson.”

“At last! A book about Switzerland that cuts through the stereotypes… Swiss Watching manages to combine impeccable research with humour and wry observation.” Swiss News

“Striking and humorous insights into Switzerland. Poignant and full of British humour.” Swiss Federal Office for Migration, Recommended reading

“Of all the English books I’ve read on Switzerland this one has been one of the most enjoyable. Informative, attentive and witty.” Zurich Expats

“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 

“Not just a travel book, Swiss Watching is a no-stone-left-unturned exploration of what makes (and has made) this enigmatic country tick.” Peter Kerr, author of Snowball Oranges

The readers’ opinions

“I am in the middle of your book and JUST LOVE it. This is the travel book to Switzerland I always waited for, also for myself (a Swiss native).” Maggie

“Congratulations! That is by far the best book I have ever read about my country. The book is entertaining, funny, and very informative (even for a Swiss). So thank you for having written that book. It is like a huge mirror where you can see the pretty face of Switzerland but also all of its spots.” Stephan

“Wonderfully written, completely engaging and just impossible to put down once opened. Affection and criticism wrapped up in the most beautiful package. ” Catherine

“You have a great talent to pinpoint the idiosyncrasies of Switzerland.” Anne

“I was caught after a few pages – I found myself and my country in the book – and keep laughing and thinking ever since. Thank you very much for the book… You manage to keep the balance: you show an affection to the country without making it the unreal paradise on earth, but you are critical without being insulting.” Maria

“Just finished your book and loved it! Great help for anyone moving to CH. Or already here for that matter.” Tiana

“I’ve just started reading ‘Swiss Watching’, and I just wanted to drop you a line to say how much I’m enjoying it. It’s well-written and well-researched – and I’m learning a lot and having fun doing so. Thank you so much!” Liz

“Got a copy of Swiss Watching today. CAN’T put it down! FANTASTIC read.” Chris

“Even as a Swiss, I realise with shame, that you know much more about Switzerland than I do. I really enjoyed your book; my sudden outbreaks of laugh earned strange looks from people around me. (they must have been Swiss as well)” Beatrice

“I always like an outside view on the things so familiar and common that we don’t even think about.” Stephan

“Just finished ‘Swiss Watching’ and I thought it was a great read: very interesting observations and a gold mine of facts about Switzerland, its people and cultures which you clearly love.” Lorraine

“I have read your book and think that it is exceptional – your style is intoxicating and fun as well as being informative and wise.” Steven

“My Word!  Your book is absolutely WONDERFUL!!!  I find it so much fun to read, and so interesting besides.  Your maps are just great – love them!” Sally

“I can’t put it down. The cover alone gets me so many questions on the tram/train with folks wanting to know what it is.” Simon


7 Comments on "Book reviews"

  1. jeanette February 11, 2011 at 11:57 am · Reply

    I loved this book! The observations of Swiss culture are spot-on! This book is a must-read for anyone considering living in Switzerland, it will make things SO much easier!!

  2. Anthony Lamdin March 6, 2011 at 9:23 am · Reply

    A great book which caused quite a few smiles. Being English with a Swiss mother and now living in Australia I learned a lot of the Swiss idiosyncracies from an early age but a refresher was well worth while.

  3. Paul Everett March 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm · Reply

    Very perceptive. In case in runs rto a second edition you might wantz to consider the following my apologies if they wre in and I missed them
    Little cemetries: Crans sur Céligny old graceyeard only about 20 tombs including Richard Burton and Alaister Maclain
    Brown rubbish bags: as you know bags are normally baqlck. Imagine my surprise when I saw two brown ones (apperently official) in Geneva. If you have seen the film Die Schweizermacher you will understand the significance. You do not mention this film in the bibliography
    Red shoes. Had not struck me but Durrenmat wrote a play about an elderly Swiss millionairesswho return to her native village and offers a million dollars provided the current mayor (and council?) is ousted. Bit by bit she wins over the populatin and the sign that they have changed sides is that they wear orange shoes
    Trains. Why is Olten (or Biel can never remember which) the centre of Swiss railways (the original 0 km stone is still on platform one. Blame the English- They planned the routes and simply drew a vertical and horizontal line on the map and they crossed near Olten
    Finally if you want a bit of Swizerland in England check out

  4. Chris Kohler January 14, 2013 at 3:48 am · Reply

    “Swiss Watching” is a very enjoyable read. I think anybody who has enjoyed visiting or living in Switzerland will identify strongly with the facts explained in the book and their humorous delivery. To me Switzerland is a magical place lifted almost directly from the pages of fairytales, and this book does very well to capture in writing the magic of a country which in many respects has no peers. To be frank, I am looking forward to Diccon’s next five books!

  5. Lily August 11, 2013 at 9:26 am · Reply

    I bought the book at the Zurich airport Kiosk this week. I was in Switzerland for the past weeks visiting the cities after more than 10 years since I was there. After seeing the wonderful lush farmlands from my train rides, old baroque but well maintained buildings from my walking through the alleys and steep ascending/descending roads, I was amazed by how the country was able to maintain the old and the past and yet able to modernize itself. I also wanted to understand how Switzerland was able to survive being a neutral country surrounded by giant EU countries and yet has progressed so well, unhurt by the recent financial crisis (despite the UBS events). I was searching for a book and Swiss Watching book was just sitting there for me to grab.

    I am in the midst of my reading and it confirms my observations the presence of the grafittis, cigarette butts on the tracks and the accuracy and punctuality of the trains to the last minute. But these are just the surface picture. I was awed by the beautiful churches in the places where I went i.e. St. Gallen, Interlaken, Geneva, Basel, Bern etc… and I think this is replicated everywhere. But I just wonder why there are a few attendees of Sunday masses in these Roman Catholic churches? Where do all these churches get the funds to maintain the structures ?

    This book gave me a good picture of the core of Swiss culture and politics. I am glad I found it !

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