Landfalls: On the Edge of Islam with Ibn Battutah by Tim Mackintosh-Smith

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For Ibn Batuttah of Tangier, being medieval didn’t mean sitting at home waiting for renaissances, enlightenments and easyJet. It meant travelling the known world to its limits.
Seven centuries on, Tim Mackintosh-Smith’s passionate pursuit of the fourteenth-century traveller takes him to landfalls in remote tropical islands, torrid Indian Ocean ports and dusty towns on the shores of the Saharan sand-sea. His zigzag itinerary across time and space leads from Zanzibar to the Alhambra (via the Maldives, Sri Lanka, China, Mauritania and Guinea) and to a climactic conclusion to his quest for the man he calls ‘IB’ – a man who out-travelled Marco Polo by a factor of three, who spent his days with saints and sultans and his nights with an intercontinental string of slave-concubines.
Tim’s journey is a search for survivals from IB’s world – material, human, spiritual, edible – however, when your fellow traveller has a 700-year head start, familiar notions don’t always work.

Landfalls: On the Edge of Islam with Ibn Battutah

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The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup Against Chavez and the Making of Modern Venezuela by Brian A. Nelson

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On April 11, 2002, nearly a million Venezuelans marched on the presidential palace to demand the resignation of Hugo Chavez. The opposition represented a cross-section of society furious with Chavez’s economic policies, specifically his mishandling of Venezuelan oil. As the day progressed, the march turned violent, sparking a military revolt that led to the temporary ousting of Chavez. Over the ensuing turbulent seventy-two hours, Venezuelans would confront the deep divisions within their society and ultimately decide the best course for their country–and its oil–in the new century.
Drawing on unprecedented reporting, Nelson renders a mesmerizing account of the coup. An “Economist” Book of the Year, “The Silence and the Scorpion” provides rich insight into the complexities of modern Venezuela.

The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup Against Chavez and the Making of Modern Venezuela

Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist by Tim Moore

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They stuck their coaches on ride-on, ride off ferries, whisked through France and Italy moaning about garlic and rudeness, then bored the neighbours to death by having them all round to look at their holiday watercolours’ Many people associate the Grand Tour with the baggy shirted Byrons of its 19th century heyday, but someone had to do it first and Thomas Coryate, author of arguably the first piece of pure travel writing, CRUDITIES, was that man. Tim Moore travels through 45 cities in the steps of a larger-than-life Jacobean hero incidentally responsible for introducing forks to England and thus ending forever the days of the finger-lickin’-good drumstick hurlers of courts gone by. Coryate’s early 17th century bawdy anecdotes include being pelted with eggs, pursued by a knife wielding man in a turban and, finally, being vomited on copiously by a topless woman with a beer barrel on her head:- For once, Tim Moore has no trouble keeping up the modern-day side. And his authentic method of travel to replicate these adventures? A clapped-out pink Rolls Royce, of course.

Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist

Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan by Will Ferguson

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It had never been done before. Not in 2,000 years of Japanese recorded history had anyone followed the Cherry Blossom Front from one end of the country to the other. Nor had anyone hitchhiked the length of Japan. But, heady on sakura and sake, Will Ferguson bet he could do both. The resulting travelogue is one of the funniest and most illuminating books ever written about Japan. And, as Ferguson learns, it illustrates that to travel is better than to arrive.

Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan

Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones by Greg Campbell

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Journalist Greg Campbell leads the reader down the international diamond trail of brutality, horror, and profit – providing an on-the-ground and in-the-mines story of global consequence. First discovered in 1930, the diamonds of Sierra Leone have funded one of the most savage rebel campaigns in modern history. These “blood diamonds” are smuggled out of West Africa and sold to legitimate diamond merchants in London, Antwerp, and New York, often with the complicity of the international diamond industry. Eventually, these very diamonds find their way into the rings and necklaces of brides and spouses the world over. Blood Diamonds is the gripping tale of how the diamond smuggling works, how the rebel war has effectively destroyed Sierra Leone and its people, and how the policies of the diamond industry – institutionalized in the 1880s by the De Beers cartel – have allowed it to happen. Award-winning journalist Greg Campbell traces the deadly trail of these diamonds, many of which are brought to the world market by fanatical enemies. These repercussions of diamond smuggling are felt far beyond the borders of the poor and war-ridden country of Sierra Leone, and the consequences of overlooking this African tragedy are both shockingly deadly and unquestionably global. Updated with a new epilogue.

Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones

The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir by Tom Stone

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The story of a man in love with a place, a woman, and a dream. Tom Stone went to Greece one summer to write a novel — and stayed twenty-two years. On Patmos, he fell in love with Danielle, a beautiful French painter. His novel completed and sold, he decided to stay a little longer. Seven idyllic years later, they left Patmos for Crete. When a Patmian friend Theológos called and offered him a summer partnership in his beach tavérna, The Beautiful Helen, Stone jumped at the chance — much to the dismay of his wife, who cautioned him not to forget the old adage about Greeks bearing gifts. Her warning was well-founded: when back on Patmos, Stone quickly discovered that he was no longer a friend or patron but a competitor. He learned hard lessons about the Greeks’ skill at bargaining and business while reluctantly coming to the realization that Theológos’s offer of a partnership was indeed a Trojan horse. Featuring Stone’s recipes, including his own Chicken Retsina and the ultimate moussaka, The Summer of My Greek Tavérna is as much a love story as it is the grand, humorous, and sometimes bittersweet adventures of an American pursuing his dreams in a foreign land, a modern-day innocent abroad.

The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir

Tropic of Capricorn by Simon Reeve

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In Tropic of Capricorn, bestselling author Simon Reeve embarks on a 23,000-mile trek around the southernmost border of the tropics – a place of both amazing beauty and overwhelming human suffering. Heading east through Africa, Australia and South America, Simon encounters breathtaking landscapes and truly extraordinary people: from Bushmen of the Kalahari and Namibian prostitutes battling with HIV to gem miners in Madagascar and teenagers in the Brazilian favela once described as the most dangerous place on earth. It is a collection of daring adventures, strange rituals and exotic wildlife, all linked together by one invisible line.
Like the best travel writing, Tropic of Capricorn confronts important issues of our time – our changing environment, poverty, globalisation – by taking us on an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Tropic of Capricorn

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