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Books for the adventure traveller who loves to read (part 20)

Travel is back and when I am about to leave or need inspiration I turn to my books to learn about new destinations. Here is the latest handful I have read.

The hall of a thousand columns - Tim Mackintosh-Smith

Born in 1304, Ibn Battutah left his native Tangier as a young scholar of law; over the 30 years that followed he visited most of the known world between Morocco and China. In this enchanting travelogue, Tim Mackintosh-Smith retraces one leg of the Moroccan’s journey: the dizzy ladders and terrifying snakes of his Indian career as a judge and hermit, courtier and prisoner, ambassador and castaway. From the plains of Hindustan to the plateaus of the Deccan and the lost ports of Malabar, an India far off the beaten path of Taj and Raj—glittering and grotesque but genuine—is revealed here.

Adventure Coordinators review - great fun book to read although a little hard to stay with the storyline at times. 8 out of 10

Further than any man - the rise and fall of Captain James Cook - Martin Dugard

In the annals of seafaring and exploration, there is one name that immediately evokes visions of the open ocean, billowing sails, visiting strange, exotic lands previously uncharted, and civilizations never before encountered -- Captain James Cook.

This is the true story of a legendary man and explorer. Noted modern-day adventurer Martin Dugard, using James Cook's personal journals, strips away the myths surrounding Cook's life and portrays his tremendous ambition, intellect, and sheer hardheadedness to rise through the ranks of the Royal Navy -- and by his courageous exploits become one of the most enduring figures in naval history.

Full or realistic action, lush descriptions of places and events, and fascinating historical characters such as King George III and the soon-to-be-notorious Master William Bligh, Dugard's gripping account of the life and death of Captain James Cook is a thrilling story of a discoverer hell-bent on going farther than any man.

Adventure Coordinators review - interesting read but a little short on sources and big on conjecture. 7 out of 10

Black Sea - Caroline Eden

This is the tale of a journey between three great cities -– Odessa, built on a dream by Catherine the Great, through Istanbul, the fulcrum balancing Europe and Asia and on to tough, stoic, lyrical Trabzon.

With a nose for a good recipe and an ear for an extraordinary story, Caroline Eden travels from Odessa to Bessarabia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey's Black Sea region, exploring interconnecting culinary cultures. From the Jewish table of Odessa, to meeting the last fisherwoman of Bulgaria and charting the legacies of the White Russian émigrés in Istanbul, Caroline gives readers a unique insight into a part of the world that is both shaded by darkness and illuminated by light.

Meticulously researched and documenting unprecedented meetings with remarkable individuals, Black Sea is like no other piece of travel writing. Packed with rich photography and sumptuous food, this biography of a region, its people and its recipes truly breaks new ground.

Adventure Coordinators review - always a pleasure to follow Eden's travels and read about the people she meets. I'll be sure to try out some of the recipes! 8 out of 10

Impossible Journey - Two against the Sahara - Michael Asher

Newlywed to Italian photographer and Arabist Mariantonietta Peru, Asher and his wife embark on a 4,500-mile West-to-East trek across the Sahara on foot and camel-back. The idea for the trek was influenced by the work of British author Geoffrey Moorhouse who had unsuccessfully attempted the crossing in 1972. Setting off from Chinguetti in Mauritania, in August 1986, with three camels, Asher and Peru pass through Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and the Sudan, and finally arrive at the Nile at Abu Simbel in southern Egypt in May 1987, having made a journey of 271 days and 4,500 miles (7,200 km) by camel, the first recorded crossing of the Sahara from west to east by non-mechanical means.

Adventure Coordinators review - a spellbinding read of what indeed at times seems an impossible journey. 8 out of 10.

Rolling Home: A Cross Canada Railroad Memoir - Tom Allen

History, drama and personal memoir combine in Rolling Home, a clear-eyed look at the changing fortunes of Canada's railway, an icon in our nation's life. Tom Allen, host of CBC Radio Two's Music & Company, crosses the country east to west and north to Hudson's Bay, meeting passengers, engineers, cooks and porters, in a story that is part celebration, part travelogue and part lament.

Along the way, he meets honeymooners and abandoned spouses, ordinary folk and deranged passengers, and has a memorable encounter with a charming man with no short-term memory. He meets visitors from abroad, local people on the milk run that provides a vital link between small remote communities, and veteran railwaymen who sustain pride in their work despite the massive cuts to their industry. Allen weaves his own memories of railroad travel with a family narrative past and present, all the while conjuring the drama, the disappointments, the history and the magic of Canada's railway history.

Adventure Coordinators review - an entertaining read for lovers of rail travel, history and just plain-good anecdotes. 7.5 out of 10.

The great global bucket list - Robin Esrock

For over a decade, renowned travel journalist, bestselling author, and TV host Robin Esrock scoured the globe in search of one-of-a-kind, bucket list–worthy experiences. During his remarkable journey to over 100 countries on seven continents, Esrock uncovered unique adventures, fascinating history, cultural spectacles, natural wonders, hilarious situations and unforgettable characters—proving that modern travel is so much more than just over-trafficked tourist attractions. From the Amazon jungle to the beaches of Zanzibar, The Great Global Bucket List presents a world we don’t hear much about in the news. A world that is strikingly beautiful, thought-provoking, incredibly diverse and sometimes, just very, very funny. With his trademark wit, photography and insight, Esrock introduces the inspiring experiences you’ll be talking and dreaming about for many years to come.

Adventure Coordinators review - there weren't too many new discoveries for me here. Curiously, the author has listed all experiences on this website. 7 out of 10.

Not quite paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka - Adele Barker

Adele Barker and her son, Noah, settled into the central highlands of Sri Lanka for an eighteen-month sojourn, immersing themselves in the customs, cultures, and landscapes of the island—its elephants, birds, and monkeys; its hot curries and sweet mangoes; the cacophony of its markets; the resonant evening chants from its temples. They hear stories of the island’s colorful past and its twenty-five-year civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil Tigers. When, having returned home to Tucson, Barker awakes on December 26, 2004, to see televised images of the island’s southern shore disappearing into the ocean, she decides she must go back. Traveling from the southernmost coasts to the farthest outposts of the Tamil north, she witnesses the ravages of the tsunami that killed forty-eight thousand Sri Lankans in the space of twenty minutes, and reports from the ground on the triumphs and failures of relief efforts. Combining the immediacy of memoir and the vividness of travelogue with the insight of the best reportage, Not Quite Paradise chronicles life in a place few have ever visited.

Adventure Coordinators review - a good in-depth read. Adele Barker really engages in local life and paints a wonderful narrative. Required reading for anyone planning to go to Sri Lanka. 8.5 out of 10

The Karluk's last voyage - Robert A. Bartlett

This is Captain Bob Bartlett’s version of the controversial loss of the Karluk, the flagship of Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s Canadian Arctic expedition of 1913-1916. Bartlett played Chopin’s Funeral March as the ice claimed his ship, then lead his crew to Wrangell Island where they awaited his return. Bartlett left them, walking some 700 miles across the frozen Arctic Ocean and down the coast of Siberia to get help.

Adventure Coordinators review - a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact retelling of the story by the captain who was there. A spellbinding read and required reading for anyone travelling on this journey. 8 out of 10.


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