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It is the story of what it means to live in a place so remote that you may not see another soul for weeks on end. And it is the story of the hidden places that I came to call my own, and the wild creatures that became my society. A moving account of the pains and pleasures of cutting oneself off from modern life. Among writers who take South America as their subject, Michael Jacobs has no peers. Part of Haus Publishing's excellent Armchair Traveller series, it is just the book for a newcomer to Istanbul, before one moves on to the work of its greatest describer, Orhan Pamuk, to whom Tillinghast devotes a chapter.

In Everything is Broken , Emma Larkin gave a harrowing account of the cyclone that hit Burma and the near-genocidal response to it of the country's military rulers, who blocked international aid. Now an earlier book by this intrepid figure she writes under a pseudonym to aid ease of movement within Burma has been reissued, and rightly so. In Finding George Orwell in Burma , Larkin follows in the footsteps of the novelist, who lived in the country as a colonial policeman for five years in the s.

It is fascinating to learn that Burma's underground intellectuals, followers of opposition politican Aung San Suu Kyi, call Orwell 'the prophet'. Like her illustrious predecessor, Larkin is a beacon for truth. The slum of Annawadi is near Mumbai airport on a stretch of road where 'new India and old India collided and made new India late'. In Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum , award-winning New Yorker journalist Katherine Boo gets deep into a world of garbage pickers, prostitutes, police, thieves and wannabe entrepreneurs, all living in the shadow of glitzy hotels.

The family of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the writer and activitist handed by the Nigerian regime of Sani Abacha, is fast becoming a literary dynasty. His son, Ken Jr, wrote a memoir called In the Shadow of a Saint , and now from his daughter Noo Saro-Wiwa comes Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria , which sees an English-educated young woman journeying from the chaos of Lagos to the calm of ancient rainforests.

WW2 - OverSimplified (Part 1)

There is mordant humour in her depiction of such events and places as a Nigerian dog show and the empty Transwonderland Amusement Park — Nigeria's answer to Disneyland. Marius Kociejowski's last book, The Street Philosopher and the Holy Fool , was an account of characters at the periphery of Syrian society.

It received great acclaim 'destined to become a travel classic' said the Times Literary Supplement , and seemed to suggest that Syria was opening up. Kociejowski's new book, The Pigeon Wars of Damascus , sees him return to Syria during political unrest. A chance encounter leads him to the competitive world of Damascene pigeon fanciers: in the whirring wings and fluttering feathers of the birds, he finds subtle analogies for the bitter intrigues and holy passions of Middle Eastern politics. It's a dark and brilliant book from a writer to watch.

Nineteen on board were killed but three survived: a dashing officer, a sergeant with head injuries, and a beautiful member of the Women's Army Corps. As Mitchell Zukoff's thrilling Lost in Shangri-La: Escape from a Hidden World relates, the trio trekked through the jungle for seven weeks until they were rescued. An incredible story that will satisfy readers who like their travel served up hard boiled. First published more than a decade ago, and now reissued, Sattin's freewheeling, thoughtful and poetic narrative finds those ancient survivals as much in people's personalities as in ruined temples.

English literature - The literature of World War II (–45) |

I have admired the American travel writer Edward Hoagland ever since reading his African Callipe , which describes a journey to Sudan. A few years after that book came out, Hoagland began making numerous trips to Alaska, having fallen in love with a nurse who worked the rural settlements, from the outskirts of Anchorage to the banks of the Yukon River. Alaskan Travels describes Hoagland's encounters with trappers, miners and other inhabitants of 'America's last best place'. In The Urban Circus: Travels with Mexico's Malabaristas , Catriona Rainsford writes about the country she made her home and the boyfriend she found there — one of the wandering Malabarista street performers of the title.

It's a wild and extraordinary book which encompasses fire-juggling, peyote-taking, attacks by narco gangsters, even a spell in jail and deportation for the author. Highly recommended, but I'd rather read than live it. Soon becoming part of village life, Paterniti is invited to join the locals for wine, cheese and story-telling in the bodega, a man-made cave known as the Telling Room. But he has not accounted for the fact that Molino had apparently plotted to murder his closest friend, or that the villagers will do almost anything to keep him from hearing the next part of the story.

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The result is not just a book about Spain and its food, but an investigation into the art of narrative itself. Winn hopes to be camping on remote headlands and islands but the weather is far too bad for that. He ends up spending rather a lot of time playing music in coastal pubs. What's not to like? Madagascar is 'a land where lizards scream and monkey-like lemurs sing songs of inexpressible beauty' as Peter Tyson has it in Madagascar: The Eighth Continent — Life, Death and Discovery in a Lost World.

There's more to it than that, of course, with a variety of unique ecological habitats to investigate on the island, an uncertain political landscape, and a future perilously pitched between Madagascar's various guises as environmental nirvana, agricultural horn of plenty and cache of valuable minerals.

Now out in a new edition — part of Bradt's foray into travel narrative as opposed to straight guidebooks — Tyson's book blends adventure, science and history into an elegant whole. First published in , Alan Ross's The Bandit on the Billiard Table is packed with exceptionally vivid descriptions of a journey by train and car through Sardinia in the early s, a time when bandits still operated on the island and billiards was 'one of the great Sardinian occupations'. If you liked those rural Italian scenes in The Godfather , then this is the book for you.

Ross, who died in , was best known as a poet and editor, but it may well be that his travel books, which also include Time Was Away: A Notebook in Corsica , Winter Sea and Reflections on Blue Water , are in fact his greatest achievements. I'm envious of the fishing and berry-picking, the little wooden cabin and, yes, of having such a subject to write about, too. In Constantinople , Italian writer Edmondo de Amicis describes a visit he made to the city in The book begins with a powerful description of arriving by ship as the view, shrouded in mist, slowly unveils.

In his introduction, Umberto Eco writes that many of the sights de Amicis records are no longer there, notably on the Galatea bridge the 'two endless streams of humanity crossing in contrary directions from dawn to dusk, the sedan chair, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, from which an Armenian lady peeped out, the elderly Turk wearing a muslin turban and a sky-blue kaftan walking beside a Greek on horseback followed by his dragoman, the dervish with his tall conical hat With a collapsible canoe, Seal follows the Meander as it swerves and veers from its headwaters to the Aegean.

As Sara Wheeler has observed, this is 'not one of those man-books soaked in testosterone', but if you do want that, try Phil Harwood's astonishing Canoeing the Congo. It's a startling, wonderfully written portrait of a country flowing with petrodollars yet still suffering the effects of years of civil war. From the moment he's told his luggage has gone to East Timor, Metcalfe suffers the endless indignities to which Angola subjects inhabitants and visitors alike. Theroux describes the capital, Luanda, as hell, and Metcalfe's book confirms this. But the country's huge tourist potential is evident on the trips he makes to the stunning interior.

This account of childhood and professional life by the veteran safari film-maker Alan Root is up there with the great African memoirs, taking us from the swashbuckling innocence of wildlife-filming in colonial Kenya to the complexities of recent years, not the least of which was the murder of Root's wife Joan in , probably because of her anti-poaching campaign. Patrick Leigh Fermor's comrade in arms, Xan Fielding, first saw Crete from the periscope of a submarine.

Uncertain what to do when the war ended, he placed an ad in The Times : 'Tough but sensitive ex-classical scholar, ex-secret agent, ex-guerrilla leader, 31, recently reduced to penury through incompatibility with the post-war world: Mediterranean lover, gambler, and general dabbler: fluent French and Greek speaker, some German, inevitable Italian: would do anything unreasonable and unexpected if sufficiently rewarding and legitimate. Stylishly recording the minutiae of peasant life, this pioneering book has been reissued with a foreword by Robert Messenger. The same publisher is also releasing Fielding's war memoir, Hide and Seek.

Simply because he is on television, people forget how well Michael Palin writes, as evidenced by his Brazil. But it is BBC resources that enable Palin to get around the country in a way that would be almost impossible for an ordinary travel writer with limited time and resources.

Editors' Picks

A vivid, synoptic take on a vast, unpredictable country, this book holds its own against more self-consciously literary works about Brazil by Peter Robb and others. In the late s, Elizabeth Laird was standing on the lawn of the British Council office in Addis Ababa when she had a brainwave, which was to collect oral accounts of Ethiopian folk tales and write them down. In The Lure of the Honey Bird: The Storytellers of Ethiopia , she supplies the often amusing context for the gathering of these stories, in a travel narrative that sees her seeking out jesters, tricksters and zombies, magic cows, hyena kings, and men who grow feathers.

Tim Dee is known for his excellent writing about birdwatching. In Four Fields , his prose takes wing in a different way, as he examines what four fields have meant to him across the years. The fields are in Cambridgeshire fenland grazing , Zambia an old colonial farm , Montana the site where Sioux and Cheyenne warriors killed George Custer and his party in , 'in a battle which as much as anything was a fight over grass' and Ukraine in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

It's a brilliant idea, and the book is as passionate, lyrical and intelligent as Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways. Just a few drops of the vast literary output of Rudyard Kipling are gathered in Kipling and the Sea: Voyages and Discoveries from North Atlantic to South Pacific , but Andrew Lycett's splendid anthology of poetry and prose gives a great sense of Kipling's passion for the briny, whether it be the romance of an eastern-bound clipper, the steam-driven world of merchant shipping, or the mechanical majesty of a dreadnought.

Morocco has long been a magnet for writers and bohemians of one type or another. In Tangier: A Literary Guide for Travellers , Josh Shoemake has put together a wonderfully elegant account of the people and places that have contributed to the exotic allure of its most exciting city. Here in all its tawdry beauty is what William Burroughs called the Interzone, where sex, drugs and rugs are cheap, and the shades of other writers such as Paul and Jane Bowles, Jack Kerouac, Jean Genet and Joe Orton mingle with each other and the local inhabitants.

But this is a lot darker and more complicated, delving into the murky past of the author's aunt, who he discovers came close to being a collaborator at the same time as being a victim of the uncertainties of the war, as so many women were. A fine book, full of hurried journeys and secret liaisons, by one of Britain's best writers.

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In fact, I only handled money once, to pay Severo for my room and board. News that a foreigner had landed and was staying in the pink bungalow near the dock drifted across the tiny island. Occasionally, a few people stopped by in the evening to say hello, offer me a tour of the island or to ask me earnest questions.

At times when I went off to explore, I caught glimpses of watchful eyes, peering at me through the palm fronds. I reacted by living with total transparency, down to my underwear drying on the clothesline. When it grew too warm, I swam in the ocean, the islanders watching from shore. Wearing goggles, I caught the flash of colour and life that swam beneath the waves — pastel fish whose scales matched the row of humble houses on Tepoto.

Mounds of spiky coral glowed neon-like, healthy and unbroken, spared from the careless destruction of men.

World War II: The Pacific Islands

This media cannot be played on your device. But here, halfway between the Marquesas and the main Tuamotu island groups, Tepoto has remained comparatively unblemished. I felt lucky to glimpse the vibrant and teeming underwater life, knowing that millions of tourists would visit the rest of Polynesia and never see this kind of virgin reef. Nor would they ever see the four-headed coconut tree. Coconuts are the only cash crop on Tepoto, and as we pushed through the forest, I noticed small piles of halved coconuts, thick with hairy husks, drying in the sun.

A small invasive beetle was killing them, he said, making the leaves fall off and leaving bare, toothpick trunks poking into the air. After 20 minutes driving through the grove, the tractor stopped and the engine cut. I looked up and there it was, skinny and circumspect, barely noticeable except for the four branches that spun out from its base. The long fronds waved back in the wind. View image of The residents of Tepoto are incredibly proud of their four-headed coconut tree Credit: Credit: Andrew Evans.

I stood in awe at the oddity before us and wondered how it came to be. By now I had heard the story from nearly every human on the island, how there had been seven branches, but three had broken off in the last major typhoon. The men began to recall different storms that had flattened the forest of trees in hours, and how the old people could predict a typhoon just from watching the birds.

In the past, the islanders latched themselves to coconut palms to keep from being blown away by the gale-force winds. Now they had a siren triggered automatically from hundreds of kilometres away and the stone church to protect them. We took the long way back to the village, continuing first to the southern tip of the island.

A baby black-tipped reef shark hunted in the shallows, zipping after the schools of smaller fish. Just like Byron had marked his disappointment on a map of the world, I had left my own impressions in the sand of Tepoto. Another tide and my trail would be erased and redrawn with the winding trails of seabirds and coconut crabs. With a few swift chops of his machete, he hacked down fresh coconuts for all of us and handed me a whole litre of coconut water.