The travel writer was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. His bestsellers include Lost Continent and Notes from a Small Island. He is also a commissioner for English Heritage.
Are you proud to be American?
My patriotism is focused. I'm proud to be an Iowan. I was against the war, and was really disappointed in the way it has been conducted, but that did not change my perception of America.
Where are you going on your summer holiday?
We're renting a house in hill town in Umbria. We went there a couple of years ago and had such a good time that we decided to go back.
You moved back to America in 1995, after 20 years of working in this country. Why have you since returned and settled in Norfolk?
We went back to America because we thought it would be a good thing for the kids to have the experience of spending part of their childhood in two countries. We always intended to come back. We chose Norfolk simply because there was a house there that was right for us.
Which building would you most like to see knocked down?
Centre Point. I've always disliked it. It's a very big building in the wrong place and is an impediment to pedestrians trying to walk from Oxford Street onto Holborn.
Des Moines or Milton Keynes?
Des Moines, because I have personal …