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Blog posts of '2011' 'February'

The Arab World
Covering Libya, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and all the 22 countries of the Arab world from Morocco across North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, north to Syria and south to the Sudan and the Comoro Islands, this authoritative atlas features striking maps and up-to-date information on  all 22 countries of the Arab League.  An invaluable reference, just published by the venerable American University in Cairo Press, compiled using information from the latest satellite imagery, the book contains detailed maps of the entire region, showing physical features, political boundaries, towns, and communication networks.
Catherine's Tucson Food Tour
As we near the end of another cold, gray winter on the East Coast, I’ve kept myself afloat with memories of a recent trip to the desert city of Tucson. Though it’s been associated of late with violence and tragedy, the city that I called home for several years is a wonderfully warm place, both in climate and spirit. Pine-covered mountains and the arid expanse of the Sonoran; palm trees and towering saguaro; modern strip malls and historic adobe neighborhoods; students emblazoned with University of Arizona logos and Spanish-speaking locals: the dualities make for a unique character. And fabulous food. Day one: having just arrived, what better way to start our Mexican Food Extravaganza than en route from the airport to our accommodations (i.e.
We've Got Culture!
A shipment of The Search For Ancient Egypt, The Search for Ancient China, Petra: The Rose-Red City, Mughal India, Splendors of the Peacock Throne, Cathedrals & Castles, North Pole, South Pole and all the other lavishly illustrated, pocket-sized encyclopedias in the
Happy 96th Birthday Patrick Leigh Fermor
Dashing war hero, bon vivant, charming author of a string of sublime travel books, the gentlemanly Anglo-Irish Patrick Leigh Fermor turned 96 on February 11. Jan Morris, without too much hyperbole, called Leigh Fermor "infinitely more than a travel writer, also a memoirist, a historian, a connoisseur of art and architecture, a poet, a humorist, a story-teller, a social chronicler, something of a mystic, and one of God's own adventurers." Fermor's acknowledged masterpieces, A Time of Gifts and
Egypt on the Brink
Tarek Osman brings insight to this vivid report on Egypt over the 55 years since President Nasser took control of the country in 1954. Born and raised in Egypt, he tackles with insight the rise of Arab nationalism and radical Islam; the relationship between Muslims and Christians; and perhaps most important of all, the rift between the cosmopolitan elite and the undereducated and unemployed poor, more than half of whom are under 30. “Crucially,” Osman writes in the introduction, “there is not only a sense of confusion, resentment and rejection among the Egyptians — especially the younger ones, but increasingly an overarching feeling of an irreparable damage, a national defeat.
Michael Palin's 10 Best
Globetrotting Michael Palin, who some of us still remember from Monty Python, has for the last 30 years been making a string of entertaining travel documentaries starting with the marvelous Around the World in Eighty Days. In a recent interview in the UK Daily Mail, Palin  reveals his Ten Greatest Travel Books.  Topping the list is Jan Morris' marvelous The World of Venice, "the first book I read that really brought alive my appetite for travel.
Bradt wins Wanderlust Award
Bradt guidebooks wins the Wanderlust 2011 Top Guidebook Award. From Sierra Leone to Botswana, Ethiopia, the Ukraine, Uruguay and and Ghana, Bradt has a well-deserved reputation for getting to emerging destinations first. They also publish Longitude's best selling wildlife guide to places like Antarctica, the Arctic, Galapagos, New Zealand and China. Managing Director, Donald Greig accepted the top award for Best Guidebook Series at Destinations travel show in London on Thursday 3rd February.
Happy Losar
Lisa Napoli, author of Radio Shangri-La (or, What I learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth) describes the festivities marking the Bhutanese New Year, celebrated on February 4th this year, the year of the iron female rabbit: "There are a few important things to know about the Bhutanese New Year, in addition to the fact that shops, schools, offices -- almost everything except Kuzoo FM -- shuts down for three days in celebration. For one thing, the slaughtering of animals is prohibited. By government decree, the butchers remain closed throughout the first calendar month. Killing is never good for one's karma, but it is seen as a particularly inauspicious way to launch a new year.
Birds & Mammals of the Antarctic
Polar pioneer, penguinologist and popular lecturer Frank Todd covers all the marine mammals and birds of the Southern Ocean in this gorgeously illustrated compact field guide. Each species gets several color photographs, dramatically presented, alongside key features and distribution notes. Frank Todd's experience -- and collection of photographs -- is legendary (though even he admits sorting out all those prions, diving-petrels and other tubenoses is nearly impossible). This terrific book will give you a fighting chance.
Bay of Isles, South Georgia
Kindly Contributed by Nigel Sitwell, publisher of the Ocean Explorer maps.
Antarctica is one of the world's most exciting and unspoiled wilderness areas, with a range of memorable places to visit. But my favorite spot is not in Antarctica itself but on the coast of South Georgia. This large island is north of 60 degrees South, and thus outside the political realm of the Antarctic Treaty, but it does lie within the biological realm encompassed by the Antarctic Convergence. South Georgia is blessed with majestic scenery and a surprising variety of wildlife and plants.