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Another eight books that inspire to travel (part 9)

August 28, 2019

 

If like for us, travel is an important ingredient to your life, we are sure reading travel stories is an important part of your life while not on the road.  Books help us understand places at a deeper level, let us plan for our next trip and even at times are the cause of a trip to places we had not considered before.

 

Here is another handful of books that will inspire you to pack your bags and travel.

 

My Life as an Explorer by Sven Hedin
Over the course of three decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sven Hedin traveled the ancient Silk Road, discovered long-lost cities, mapped previously uncharted rivers, and saw more of the roof of the world than any European before him. Written in an exuberant, enthusiastic style, this epic memoir captures the splendor of nowvanished civilizations, the excitement of unearthing ancient monuments, the chilling terrors of snow-clogged mountain passes, and the parching agony of the desert. Hedin climbs accursed mountains in China, infiltrates Tibet, outwits Torgut bandits, and of course becomes close friends with royalty from Peking to London, including the rulers of both the Russian and British empires. A worldwide bestseller in the 1920s, it today introduces a new generation to a man of exceptional daring and accomplishment. 

Recommended by your fellow traveller Aida from Calgary. 

Adventure Coordinators verdict - an account of exploration that at times leaves you breathless and at times wondering "what was he thinking?".  But it also makes you want to pack your bags and travel to Central Asia and Tibet.  7.5 out of 10.

 

 

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks
Have you ever made a drunken bet? Worse still, have you ever tried to win one? In attempting to hitchhike round Ireland with a fridge, Tony Hawks did both, and his foolhardiness led him to one of the best experiences of his life. Joined by his trusty traveling companion-cum-domestic appliance, he made his way from Dublin to Donegal, from Sligo through Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Wexford, Wicklow--and back again to Dublin. In their month of madness, Tony and his fridge met a real prince, a bogus king, and the fridge got christened. They surfed together, entered a bachelor festival, and one of them had sex without the other knowing. And unexpectedly, the fridge itself became a momentary focus for the people of Ireland.
Adventure Coordinators verdict:  while the title was a bit of a put-off, once I started reading this book I could not put it down.  Laugh-out-loud funny in many places, a tad naughty in some, this is one unlikely travelogue everyone who loves Ireland, it's people and British humor should read.  8.5 out of 10

 

 

Red Notice A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder

This is a story about an accidental activist. Bill Browder started out his adult life as the Wall Street maverick whose instincts led him to Russia just after the breakup of the Soviet Union, where he made his fortune.
Along the way he exposed corruption, and when he did, he barely escaped with his life. His Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky wasn’t so lucky: he ended up in jail, where he was tortured to death. That changed Browder forever. He saw the murderous heart of the Putin regime and has spent the last half decade on a campaign to expose it. Because of that, he became Putin’s number one enemy, especially after Browder succeeded in having a law passed in the United States—The Magnitsky Act—that punishes a list of Russians implicated in the lawyer’s murder. Putin famously retaliated with a law that bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans.
Adventure Coordinators verdict:  while not a travel novel per se, this financial caper, crime thriller, and political crusade is a must-read for anyone travelling to countries in the former Soviet Union.  7.5 out of 10

 

 

Beijing confidential by Jan Wong

Jan Wong has returned to Beijing. Her quest: to find someone she encountered briefly in 1973, and whose life she was certain she had ruined forever.
In the early 70s, Jan Wong travelled from Canada to become one of only two Westerners permitted to study at Beijing University. One day a young stranger, Yin Luoyi, asked for help in getting to the United States. Wong, then a starry-eyed Maoist, immediately reported Yin to the authorities. Thirty-three years on Jan Wong revisits the Chinese capital to begin her search for the person who has haunted her conscience. She wants to apologize, to somehow make amends. At the very least, she wants to discover whether Yin survived.
Emotionally powerful and rich with detail, Beijing Confidential weaves together three distinct stories–Wong’s journey from remorse to redemption, Yin’s journey from disgrace to respectability, and Beijing’s stunning journey from communism to capitalism.

Adventure Coordinators verdict: a tad self-indulgent at times, this is a must-read for anyone planning to visit China and trying to make sense of where the country has been and where it is headed.  7.5 out of 10

 

 

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson 
The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War I was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, "a sideshow to a sideshow." As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by four men far removed from the corridors of power. At the center of it all was Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist digging ruins in Syria; by 1919 he was riding into legend at the head of an Arab army, as he fought a rearguard action against his own government and its imperial ambitions.
Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabia definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.

Adventure Coordinators verdict: a good read for those who want to understand more of the recent history of Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Syria.  7 out of 10

 

 

Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach 
Here is the story of Gertrude Bell, who explored, mapped, and excavated the Arab world throughout the early twentieth century. Recruited by British intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brains to match T. E. Lawrence's brawn. After the war, she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.
Adventure Coordinators verdict: an interesting read for those who want to understand more of the recent history of the Middle East.  7 out of 10

 

 

Knack Hiking & Backpacking: A Complete Illustrated Guide (Knack: Make It Easy) by Buck Tilton
Never again will mosquitoes, blisters, bad food, or the wrong gear ruin a great hike—not with Knack Hiking & Backpacking, a quick-reading, picture-driven guide that offers the highest level of expertise in the most user-friendly format ever. The first such reference created for visual learners, it covers every step needed for the best hiking and backpacking experience, one step at a time. From picking the right gear to cooking gourmet trail food, from good hiking technique to dressing the part, it has everything today’s hiker wants and needs. Step-by-step full-color photo sequences and information-packed, clearly worded instructions are the hallmarks of this definitive one-volume resource.
Adventure Coordinators verdict:  while some sections are a little outdated this book is a great resource for both beginners and experienced hikers and trekkers.  8 out of 10

 

 

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin
This novel tells the story of Anne Greves, from Montreal, who meets Serey, a Cambodian student forced into exile when he cannot return home during Pol Pot’s time of terror. Anne and Serey meet in a jazz club where their shared passion for music turns into a passion for each other, against the will of her father. But when the borders of Cambodia open, Serey is compelled to return home, alone, to try to find his family. Left behind, and without word from her lover, Anne tries to build a new life but she cannot forget her first love. She decides to travel to the war-ravaged country that claimed Serey. What she finds there is a traumatized and courageous people struggling to create new freedoms out of the tragedy that claimed their traditional ways, their livelihood, and a seventh of their population.
Adventure Coordinators verdict: beautiful prose - I couldn't put it down.  If it weren't for the gut-wrenching graphic details I would have given it a 10 out of 10.

 

 

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