I have turned in the last chapter of Frommer’s EasyGuide to London 2014, the first guidebook to be edited and published by Arthur Frommer since the 1970s. He created the brand in 1957, and he asked me to be the first author of a flagship book when he retook publication. Of course I said yes.
Reinventing a guidebook under the supervision of the man who defines them has had me thinking about what makes a worthy one. I found myself dipping into the archive to look at what Arthur himself did in the 1950s.
Here’s a nugget from the very first guide he wrote, 1955′s The G.I.’s Guide to Travelling in Europe:
“In most of your encounters with British food, you’ll feel that you’re shoveling hay into your mouth.”
Times have changed and that is no longer an appraisal I can agree with, but I instantly loved his pointedness in telling it like it was. One might call it refreshing honesty. But in the framework of writing a guide, it’s what I call telling people what they really want to know.
When he reported from Berlin’s Revi telephone bar, he essentially told male readers if they stood a chance of getting laid: