Summary of Swiss Watching

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Swiss Watching book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Overview
  • Engaging


Switzerland is not like other countries. Swiss chocolate is “perfect”; Swiss watches are perfect; Swiss cheese is perfect; and Swiss fondue is perfect. Unfortunately, in 2008, the trains of the Swiss Federal Railways ran on schedule only 95.8% of the time, down from 95.9% in 2007. The Swiss-German newspaper, Der Bund, scolded, “Swiss trains are less punctual!” For the Swiss, the additional 0.1% of late trains proved disturbing news. In Switzerland, if things are not perfect, they should be close. In his entertaining, informative romp through Swiss history, culture and business, travel writer Diccon Bewes reveals Switzerland in all its singularity. The result is a thorough, surprising report on this unique “land of milk and money.” getAbstract recommends Bewes’s fun-to-read – and near perfect – overview of Switzerland.

About the Author

Diccon Bewes, a Swiss resident, is the former manager of the Stauffacher English Bookshop in Bern. He has written for Holiday Which? magazine and Lonely Planet.


Swiss Surprises

Switzerland is chock-full of contrasts and surprises – plus luscious chocolate, fine watches and great cheese. Worldwide, Swiss people are famous for their fastidious cleanliness. Each morning in Switzerland, the country looks as if hard-working elves magically scoured and scrubbed every square inch of the nation, then picked up and hid even microscopic debris.

Yet, paradoxically, you’ll often see tossed-away cigarette butts, ugly chewing gum wads and in-your-face graffiti. For some unknown reason, Swiss smokers do not regard cigarette butts as litter. Typical Swiss smokers responsibly insert their rubbish into the nearest receptacle but casually flick burning cigarette stubs onto the sidewalk. A typical Swiss bus stop looks like the site of a smokers’ convention. When it comes to gum, the average Swiss chews a miniature Matterhorn of the sticky stuff annually, a whopping 700 grams (24.69 ounces, or 1.54 pounds). Something must be working, however, to keep even smokers and gum chewers in sound health. Swiss life expectancy is 82.3 years, the second-best in the world, after Japan.

Graffiti also blots Switzerland’s cleanliness. The “sprayers,” as...

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