Blog posts tagged with 'history'

Chimney Rock
chimney3Kindly contributed by historian David Welky, whose new book A Wretched and Precarious Situation we are thrilled to recommend to travelers to the Arctic. Delving into newly discovered letters, diary entries and field notes, Welky uncovers how the Crocker Land Expedition (1913 to 1917) survived shipwreck, disease, low supplies and murder while trying to explore (what they thought was) a new continent. Here he shares how his work as a historian colors his experience of each destination he visits.   As a professional historian, I feel the past wherever I go. Walking into a bungalow home sends me into the Roaring Twenties.
According to Goethe, Sicily is the key to everything. But those of us who are not fortunate enough to live there may need a key to understanding the island itself. “No non-Sicilian…will ever be able to penetrate the island’s mysteries altogether,” writes John Julius Norwich in his history of the island. But, lucky for us, his new book Sicily, An Island at the Crossroads of History brings us closer to the mysteries themselves. Norwich, the "dean of popular historians," delivers a page-turning account of Sicily, highlighting the surprising role the island has played in world history.
The Albayzin, Granada
Kindly contributed by Steven Nightingale, a Nevada native who moved to Granada and who takes readers back to the city's medieval zenith in his new book Granada, A Pomengranate in the Hand of God.
©Robert Blesse
In the spring of 2002 my wife and I traveled with our 11-month old daughter through southern Spain, in search of a city to live. After visiting Cordoba and Sevilla, we wandered into Granada. Across a narrow gorge from the Alhambra—the finest Moorish palace in the world—we found the Albayzín, a medieval neighborhood designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Within an hour of our arrival, we had decided to move in.
In Manchuria
Chinese youth who live in the countryside often dream of moving to the city. Conversely, Michael Meyer lived in Beijing but dreamed of moving to Manchuria, the northeastern province of China known locally as Dongbei (rhymes with “wrong way”), where he eventually resided among his wife’s family in a village called Wasteland. With his new book In Manchuria, Meyer uses trains as a vehicular lens through which to see and explore the region’s history. When not teaching English in Wasteland (where students know him as “Professor Plumblossom”), he tours the countryside, searching for traces of history from before the 1950s. But in Manchuria, the past can be hard to come by.
Fortunes of Africa
In writing a history book that clocks in at over 700 pages and seems as vast as the continent itself, African expert Martin Meredith (The Fate of Africa, Born in Africa) has somehow crafted an inviting -- even exciting -- read with his new book The Fortunes of Africa. It’s hard to imagine a book being more complete in scope, moving from the pharaohs of ancient Egypt through the last millennium.
Opening with his daily journey, by bike of course, through his neighborhood to drop off his toddler son, Russell Shorto spins a tale of a diverse city (178 nationalities, more than New York), wrestled collectively from the sea, its coffee shops, canals, personalities and politics. Subtitled, A History of the World's Most Liberal City, this beautifully presented book (with end papers, color plates and generous margins) is also a travelogue and a magnificent ode to his adopted home.
Venice Ruled
Roger Crowley spins tales of three centuries of plunder and plague, conquest and piracy in City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas, chronicling the transformation of a tiny city of lagoon dwellers (Venice) into the richest place on earth. Crowley has also memorably written of Istanbul, Venice's natural rival and object of envy, in