Saturday, April 9, 2011
A Series of Travels: The Atlantic Traveler
In addition to authors, there are also book series on traveling that have ended up on my shelves. During the 1980s and 90s, Atlantic Monthly Press published a great collection of adventures simply called Traveler. I've never been able to find a complete list of all the books but seems there about fifteen total. Here are mine.
1. Night Train to Turkestan: Modern Adventures Along China's Ancient Silk Road, Stuart Stevens (1994). Maybe one of the funniest, irreverent travel books I've ever read. In an attempt to retrace the 1936 journey of two famous adventurers (Peter Flemming and Ella Maillart) from Beijing to the far western city of Kashgar, Stevens sets out with three American companions. His traveling companions include Mark Salzman who wrote his own account of life in China (Iron and Silk, to be mentioned in a later list). They travel through a surreal landscape on crowded, crude buses and trains meeting one unusual character after another. While I don't recommend it for a scholarly approach to the Silk Road, it was one of the books that got me interested in the area. (Later lists to come on Silk Road travel). Bought used at Second Story Books, Washington, DC.
2. Malaria Dreams: An African Adventure, Stuart Stevens (1994). Stevens again--his second book and almost as funny. Travel on a mission to recover a friend's Land Rover. His traveling companion this time is the only woman, Stevens claims, to have transferred from Bryn Mawr to the University of Oklahoma. (Later list to come on Africa.) Bought used but can't remember where.
3. Under a Sickle Moon: A Journey through Afghanistan, Peregrine Hodson (1986). In the tradition of intrepid English travelers, Hodson enters Afghanistan in the mid 1980s during the fighting with the Soviets with the Mujahedin. Thoughtful and observant. (Later lists to come on Afghanistan.) Bought used Second Story Books.
4. Fall Out of Heaven: An Autobiographical Journey Across Russia, Alan Cheuse (1987). Cheuse writes on one of my favorite themes in travel--that of a pilgrimage, in particular pilgrimages of personal significance. In 1986, Cheuse, armed with scraps of his father's journal, went to the Soviet Union in search of his past as a fighter pilot in the 1930s in the Red Army Air Force. Bought used but unable to recall where.
5. East ALong the Equator: A Journey Up the Congo and Into Zaire, Helen Winternitz (1987). A 2,000 mile journey up river through Zaire. A modern, non-fiction analogue to Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Winternitz is challenged by Mobutu's security forces all along. (Later lists to cone on Africa). Bought used at State Department bookstore.
6. and 7. Journey to Cyprus and Where Nights are Longest, Colin Thubron. See earlier list of Thubron.