I understand cricket - what's going on, the scoring - but I can't understand why.

There'd never been a more advantageous time to be a criminal in America than during the 13 years of Prohibition. At a stroke, the American government closed down the fifth largest industry in the United States - alcohol production - and just handed it to criminals - a pretty remarkable thing to do.

In any area of human endeavour, there is going to be mediocrity. You're going to find people who get money that they shouldn't get.

If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you'll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors. When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way.

America is a very seductive place in terms of lifestyle and comfort, but it wasn't for me.

I grew up, really, in the days before air conditioning. So I can remember what it was like to be really hot, for instance, and I can remember what it was like when your barber shop and your local stores weren't air conditioned, so it was hot when you went in them and they propped the doors open.

Where I grew up, in Des Moines, Iowa, there is hardly any downtown economic activity now. Everybody shops in malls - you don't find a sense of community in malls.

I'm not funny in person. I mean I'm really not. I'm one of those people who always screw up anecdotes.

I have made a career of bumbling around places, stumbling on landmarks and generally being quite haphazard and shambolic about the way I go about things.

Have you ever seen Glenn Beck in operation? It is the most terrifying thing. It's so bad that you think he's going to announce in a minute that it's all a great con. He makes Sarah Palin look reasonable and steady.

Nobody gets excited about the future at all, ever. The future is something we find depressing and worrisome.

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.

I don't plan to write another science book, but I don't plan not to. I do enjoy writing histories, and taking subjects that are generally dull and trying to make them interesting.

I've been wanting to do a book about baseball for the longest time, and nobody will let me do it. It's the one thing from America I really miss.

An awful lot of England is slowly eroding, in ways that I find really distressing, and an awful lot of it is the hedgerows... We're reaching the point where a lot of the English countryside looks just like Iowa - just kind of open space.

Coming back to your native land after an absence of many years is a surprisingly unsettling business, a little like waking from a long coma. Time, you discover, has wrought changes that leave you feeling mildly foolish and out of touch.

Science has been quite embattled. It's the most important thing there is. An arts graduate is not going to fix global warming. They may do other valuable things, but they are not going to fix the planet or cure cancer or get rid of malaria.

My first rule of consumerism is never to buy anything you can't make your children carry.

I had always thought that once you grew up you could do anything you wanted - stay up all night or eat ice-cream straight out of the container.

I grew up in Des Moines. My dad had a house full of books, things like P.G. Wodehouse books and 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte.

I have long known that it is part of God's plan for me to spend a little time with each of the most stupid people on earth.

He had the sort of face that makes you realize God does have a sense of humor.

I've been writing all these books that have been largely autobiographical and yet, really, they don't tell you anything about me. I just use my life story as a kind of device on which to hang comic observations. It's not my interest or instinct to tell the world anything pertinent about myself or my family.

In 1927, if you were stuck with idle time, reading is what you did. It's no accident that the 'Book-of-the-Month Club' and 'The Literary Guild' were founded in that period as well as a lot of magazines, like 'Reader's Digest,' 'Time,' and 'The New Yorker.'

Des Moines is like your typical American city; it's just these concentric circles of malls, built outward from the city.

Yes, U.S. travelers dress better. The British are always so conspicuous in hot climates. They don't seem to wear shorts. American men seem to be comfortable wearing hot-weather clothing.

I wish I could adjust my voice, but it's just what's happened to me. It's because I've lived abroad for a long time, and my wife is English and my kids all have English accents, and every voice I hear is English. I've never intentionally changed my accent at all.

There is the odd exception, like Albert Einstein, but as a breed, scientists tend not be very good at presenting themselves.

I painted myself into a corner by writing a whole book on this one period. The summer of 1927 came to an end, but nothing else did - all of these peoples' lives went on.

The world is very lucky to have America. It's got to be the first time in the whole history of the planet that a country has been the dominant force in the world and it has actually been a force for good... America really deserves more credit.

If you go out on the Appalachian Trail, you have to bring so much more equipment - a tent, sleeping bag - but if you go hiking in England, or Europe, generally, towns and villages are near enough together at the end of the day you can always go to a nice little inn and have a hot bath and something to drink.

Open your refrigerator door, and you summon forth more light than the total amount enjoyed by most households in the 18th century. The world at night, for much of history, was a very dark place indeed.

I can't imagine there has ever been a more gratifying time or place to be alive than America in the 1950s. No country had ever known such prosperity.

There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age.

I once joked in a book that there are three things you can't do in life. You can't beat the phone company, you can't make a waiter see you until he is ready to see you, and you can't go home again.

Anyone who has read my books will know that I don't tend to use guides when I am travelling. It's not a pride thing, but it is certainly a fact.

The whole of the global economy is based on supplying the cravings of two per cent of the world's population.

The basic challenge of any book is you know you're going to be working on it for three or four years or more. So you want to have a subject that will keep you engaged.

I'm not a natural story-teller. Put a keyboard in front of me and I'm fine, but stand me up in front of an audience and I'm actually quite shy and reserved.

I like to do books in which a lot of the research and the writing and the thinking revolves around something American.

In order to have quality journalism you need to have a good income stream, and no Internet model has produced a way of generating income that would pay for good-quality investigative journalism.

For a long time, I'd been vaguely fascinated by the idea that Charles Lindbergh flew the Atlantic and Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in the same summer.

I'm a great believer that you had to do everything you've done to have got to where you are.

I just use my life story as a kind of device on which to hang comic observations. It's not my interest or instinct to tell the world anything pertinent about myself or my family.

The remarkable position in which we find ourselves is that we don't actually know what we actually know.

Roads get wider and busier and less friendly to pedestrians. And all of the development based around cars, like big sprawling shopping malls. Everything seems to be designed for the benefit of the automobile and not the benefit of the human being.

I don't know whether I'm misanthropic. It seems to me I'm constantly disappointed. I'm very easily disappointed. Disappointed in the things that people do; disappointed in the things that people construct. I want things to be better all the time.

Personally, I've never been attracted to danger. It's not my sort of thing. I am more attracted to pubs and cafes. The known, safe and comfortable world.

I still enjoy traveling a lot. I mean, it amazes me that I still get excited in hotel rooms just to see what kind of shampoo they've left me.