Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vintage Departures

Vintage Books created a series of affordable paper back travel books--some of which have become modern travel classics.  I unintentionally started buying them because the travel topics interested me.  The series contains over 170 books.  Here's my collection:

1.  Iron & Silk, Mark Salzman (1986).  Before China was fully opened and before Peter Hessler wrote his insightful books on China, a young American martial arts student, Mark Salzman, went to live and travel in China.  The result is a series of sketches about his experience.  Salzman's experience is richer for his fluency in Mandarin. Bought used but can't remember where.  Contains a book stamp of the previous owner, Nell P. K. from Ormand Beach, Florida.  

2.  Dazinger's Travels: Beyond Forbidden Frontiers, Nick Danzinger (1987).  In a fine tradition of English intrepid eccentric travelers, Danzinger creates his own epic trip He travels from Turkey to Beijing on foot, donkey, camel or truck disguised as a itinerant Muslim.  Along the way he meets Afghan mujaheddin, Uigers, Tibetan lamas and Chinese Communist Party leaders.  Bought used somewhere.  

3-5.  Tim Cahill.  The NY Times describes him as the "working man's Paul Theroux" (see earlier blog on Theroux, The Lone Traveler).  I have three Cahill books under the Vantage Departure's series by Cahill.  Most titles involve animals attacking him.  The three here are collections of travel incidents--usually comic, bordering on the disastrous.   All bought at the State Department Book Store. 

  • Jaguars Ripped My Flesh (1996).
  • A Wolverine is Eating My Leg (1989).  
  • Pass the Butterworms: Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered (1998).   

6.  In Xanadu: A Quest, William Dalrymple (1990).   Dalrymple is a master story teller of travel.  With Xanadu, he retraces Marco Polo's route starting in Syria to the summer palace of Kubla Kahn.  Along the way, he travels through the valley of the Assassins.  Bought at BJ's Books in Warrenton.  

7.  Video Night in Katmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East, Pico Iyer (1989).  Iyer is one of those travel writers that other travel writers seek out.  This is a series of treks to far flung spots of the Far East with Iyer spotting the beginnings of modern globalization.  Bought used at the State Department Book Store.

8.  Navigations, Ted Kerasote (1989).  Kerasote picks out the wilderness areas of North and South America and heads straight for them.  The book takes you from camping along the Arctic Ocean to climbing the Andes.  No idea where I bought this used book.

9.  From Heaven Lake, Vikram Seth (1987).  A hitch-hiking Odyssey from Nanjing China to Tibet and New Delhi.  Bought used but can't remember where.

10.  Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea (1992).  From an intended adventure to an unintended adventure.  Hansen starts a sailing trip with friends through the Red Sea and ends up stranded in Yemen.  Bought used somewhere.

11.  Fool's Paradise, Dave Walker (1988).  Walker relocates to Saudi Arabia to teach English.  His restlessness caries him to a corner of Saudi Arabia in search of a mythic "happy Arabia."  Bought used somewhere.  

For the full list of Vintage Departures, see

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for linking to my list of Vintage Departures. I've enjoyed almost everyone I've read and some were outstanding including A Farm on the River of Emeralds; The Road from Coorain; Dead Season, a Story of Murder and Revenge on the Phillipine island of Negros; and Footsteps : Adventures of a Romantic Biographer. You pretty much can't go wrong with any of he ones I've read so far.
    Stephen Littrell