Hauliers travelling to the Middle East often have to deal with more challenging weather conditions and more poorly maintained roads than they’re used to in Europe. Throughout the seventies and eighties, a plethora of drivers were sent on contracts that took them well into the Middle East, having to fight through rundown roads and red tape. Add to this the lack of the same navigation and communication equipment available to hauliers today, difficult or often downright terrifying weather conditions, and this journey has become near legendary to truckers and road enthusiasts of all kinds. |
Dave Bowers is not himself a trucker, although he has written plenty on the subject for a wide range of publications. In 1975, however, he was stuck in Iran with no money and no means of transport. In order to return to the UK, his only recourse was to hitchhike along the Middle Eastern route. It was during this journey that he met a number of lorry drivers, each of which had their own fascinating stories to tell of the road and of their homes and families.
Beyond the Bosphorus: British Drivers on the Middle-East Routes is Bowers’ attempt to immortalise the stories and characters he met during this trip. There’s a real sense of adventure and exploration in this book, as Bowers was hitchhiking the Middle Eastern route in its early days - when it was first becoming an arterial haulage road. The hauliers in this book were some of the first to travel the route, and those who came from temperate areas were contending with conditions they’d never experienced before. Bowers’ account of their stories is, among other things, a celebration of the individuals he encountered and the isolation they went through in order to drive the infamous roads.
This rugged spirit of adventure is certainly a big part of the appeal of this book, and indeed it’s one of the main things that draws new drivers to the profession. The ability to relive a fascinating part of trucking history makes this book worth reading, and the excitement of driving a previously seldom travelled route in unforgiving conditions is something which can appeal to the adventurer in all of us. However, parts of the book are also timeless and any haulier will recognise them as parts of their own life.
Most universal of all is the richness of life on the road. Beyond the Bosphorus is a fantastic reminder, to veteran hauliers as much as to those who’ve never been behind the wheel, that every passer-by has their own hopes, dreams and fears – as well as their own stories to tell. Every driver has their own home to miss, their own place to run from, or something in between. Beyond the Bosphorus is not just a homage to a specific part of trucking history but an ode to the fantastic variation and individuality of life on the road. It’s a reminder that, during your time driving, you’re given a unique opportunity to develop your own perspective as well as to examine the perspectives of other drivers.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry across the UK and Europe. It provides services for matching work for a haulier with jobs and to buy and sell road transport and haulage work in the domestic and international markets. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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