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By Justin Hill. 2002
Asmara is the capital of Eritrea - a surreally Italian city at the centre of an ex-Italian colony that has…been at war with its neighbour Ethiopia (who claim sovereignty over Eritrea) for over ten years. Amidst broken palaces (built by the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie), nomadic desert encampments and war-torn towns, Hill found a god-fearing people remarkably resistant to everything fate has thrown at them. This book is a tribute to their resilience and will stand beside Philip Gouravitch's Rwandan book, WE WISH TO INFORM YOU THAT TOMORROW YOU WILL BE KILLED WITH YOUR FAMILIES, as a classic account of contemporary Africa.
By George Alagiah. 2007
As a five-year-old, George Alagiah emigrated with his family to Ghana - the first African country to attain independence from…the British Empire. A PASSAGE TO AFRICA is Alagiah's shattering catalogue of atrocities crafted into a portrait of Africa that is infused with hope, insight and outrage. In vivid and evocative prose and with a fine eye for detail Alagiah's viewpoint is spiked with the freshness of the young George on his arrival in Ghana, the wonder with which he recounts his first impressions of Africa and the affection with which he dresses his stories of his early family life. A sense of possibility lingers, even though the book is full of uncomfortable truths. It is a book neatly balanced on his integrity and sense of obligation in his role as a writer and reporter. The shock of recognition is always there, but it is the personal element that gives A PASSAGE TO AFRICA its originality. Africa becomes not only a group of nations or a vast continent, but an epic of individual pride and suffering.
By Will Randall. 2005
Will Randall travels with a purpose, as well as an outrageous sense of fortune. In INDIAN SUMMER he found himself,…by chance, having the extraordinary experience of helping slum schoolchildren put on a play to help save their school. In Botswana he was taken up by a headmaster to teach a class of six year olds at The River of Life school. They are football crazy and one of Will's jobs is to take them to play neighbouring (sometimes as much as 100 miles away) schools. Camping en-route or staying in farms and rural villages, often travelling by foot or dug-out punts, thousands of antelope, elephant, buffalo and zebra follow their progress. The sound of lions, leopards and hyenas become the soundtrack of their dreams. Against all the odds they find themselves preparing for the Grand Final of the season - the titanic clash with arch rivals, Victoria Falls Primary school.Both an endearing personal story and a travel book about a little-known but highly successful country, BOTSWANA TIME will win new fans for both Will Randall and the extraordinary country of Botswana.
By Will Randall. 2004
While attempting to teach at an inner London comprehensive Will Randall is taken up by an elderly German woman who…asks him to accompany her to India. Nothing ventured, he agrees and so begins a wonderful life-changing adventure. Set down in Puna (3 hours from Bombay) he begins work teaching English at a slum school. Most of the children are orphans or parentless (one lost his parents four years previously when his mother had let go of his hand at a railway station and he 'd boarded the wrong train ). When zamidars -slum barons - arrive and threaten to pull down the school Randall has to put on a fund-raising performance of the Indian epic The Ramayana in order to help the slum dwellers buy their own land. Meanwhile he's also been spotted by a Bollywood Director who persuades him to take the role of leading man in his new film.Will Randall is 'the teacher who travels' and, as in SOLOMON TIME, this is a funny and heart-warming account of how one man's enthusiasm and old-fashioned desire to do good have helped to preserve a community.
By Will Randall. 2008
House-sitting in Boston one winter, Will Randall picks up with one of his more disreputable travel buddies, Jack J. Makepeace,…and life gets a great deal more exciting.Makepeace introduces Randall to his current employers, Chestnut Investigations, and soon Will finds himself appointed apprentice Private Investigator. He tails mongrels and errant husbands, attends a seminar on Blood Spatter and is recruited in a lapdancing club by an anti-government go-go girl. Then emotional stakes are suddenly raised when Will Randall, unlikely Limey Gumshoe, finds himself investigating the disappearance of a sixteen-year-old girl from her affluent home, and fighting to save a vulnerable boy from the housing projects from a miscarriage of justice.With his latest adventures in Limey Gumshoe, Will Randall gives us an often hilarious, sometimes scary, eye-opening perspective on the bizarre world of private investigation.
By Will Randall. 2008
Writer, adventurer, ex-teacher and veteran of umpteen travel disasters, Will Randall has fallen off donkeys in Spain and out of…canoes in the Solomon Islands, but none of this has prepared him for a disastrous season as a ski-bum with a posse of raucous, hard-drinking ex-students.Dismally unfashionable and hopeless at skiing, Randal finds that his stay in the charming Alpine backwater of mont St Bernard brings a whole host of new opportunities for domestic catastrophe, romantic rejection and public humiliation, including a stint as a chalet girl and an encounter with a Russian oligarch and his hair-raising entourage.Wry, self-deprecating and deliriously funny, ANOTHER LONG DAY ON THE PISTE is a rollercoaster of a travel adventure and essential apres-ski reading.
By Charlie Connelly. 2009
The landscape of the British Isles is filled with history, much of which we miss as it flashes past the…car window. Do we even realise that we're following the same path as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, or that we're driving past the exact spot where King Harold was killed, shot through the eye with an arrow? As a lover of both history and the British countryside, Charlie Connelly decided to rectify this, and set out on a series of walks that recreate famous historical journeys. En route he retells the story of the original trip while discovering who and what now inhabit these iconic routes. Walking in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Charlie journeys alongside Boudicca's ghost in Norfolk, relives Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight to Skye disguised as Flora MacDonald's maid and takes the same 32-mile round trip as the starving Louisburgh famine walkers. He suffers broken toes, becomes trapped in the Scottish Parliament and encounters dead poets and a surprisingly high number of mad old women in woolly hats. Told with Charlie's customary charm and wit, And Did Those Feet will reveal the historical secrets hidden in the much-loved coastal, country and urban landscapes of Britain.
By Nick Thorpe. 2007
One clear morning in May, Nick Thorpe left his Edinburgh flat, ducked off the commuter route and hitched a ride…aboard a little white canal boat, heading west towards the sea. It was the first mutinous step in a delightful boat-hopping odyssey that would take him 2500 miles through Scotland's canals, lochs and coastal waters, from the industrial Clyde to the scattered islands of Viking Shetland. Writing with characteristic humour and candour, the award-winning author of EIGHT MEN AND A DUCK plots a curiously existential voyage, inspired by those who have left the warm hearth for the promise of a stretched horizon. Whether rowing a coracle with a chapter of monks, scanning for the elusive Nessie, hitting the rocks with Captain Calamity or clinging to the rigging of a tall ship, Thorpe weaves a narrative that is by turns funny and poignant - a nautical pilgrimage for any who have ever been tempted to try a new path just to see where it might take them. Part travelogue, part memoir, ADRIFT IN CALEDONIA is a unique and affectionate portrait of a sea-fringed nation - and of the drifter's quest to belong.
By Will Randall. 2002
Echoing the experiences of Robert Louis Stevenson - who spent several years in the South Pacific - here is the…story of a contemporary writer who lived in and came to love the Solomon Islands. Most unexpectedly, Will Randall, once a happy schoolteacher, found himself dispatched to a small village on a not very large island, far out in the vastness of the South Pacific. His mission (although he had hardly chosen to accept it): - to fulfil the dying wishes of the 'Commander' and help the local people set up a money-making community project. The Solomon Islands, islands lost in time - Solomon Time; these little gems of land scattered across the ocean, must be the last sanctuary on our shrivelled planet not yet overshadowed by the Golden Arches or encapsulated in a Coca-Cola bubble. Everyone has dreamed at some time of living on a desert island. Here is the unvarnished truth. Sharks, turtles, a band of unruly chickens, a cast of extraordinary characters, and a bird called the Spangled Drongo, accompany Will Randall through some of the most fascinating and certainly funniest scenes to be found in travel writing since Gerald Durrell.
By Richard Grant. 2008
There are many ways to die in the Sierra Madre, a notorious nine-hundred-mile mountain range in northern Mexico where AK-47s…are fetish objects, the law is almost non-existent and power lies in the hands of brutal drug mafias. Thousands of tons of opium and marijuana are produced there every year. Richard Grant thought it would be a good idea to travel the length of the Sierra Madre and write a book about it. He was warned before he left that he would be killed. But driven by what he calls 'an unfortunate fascination' for this mysterious region, Grant sets off anyway. In a remarkable piece of investigative writing, he evokes a sinister, surreal landscape of lonely mesas, canyons sometimes deeper than the Grand Canyon, hostile villages and an outlaw culture where homicide is the most common cause of death and grandmothers sell cocaine. Finally his luck runs out and he finds himself fleeing for his life, pursued by men who would murder a stranger in their territory 'to please the trigger finger'.
By Nick Thorpe. 2003
Nick Thorpe was innocently travelling around South America with his wife, Ali, when he came across an American adventurer planning…to sail from Chile to Easter Island on a Bolivian boat made of reeds. Inspired by the great Thor Heyerdahl, Phil Buck had recruited seven men to join him on this experiment to discover whether it might have been possible that Polynesia was first settled from South America rather than Asia. But when one of them dropped out a place in the crew became available for Nick.What followed was a somewhat bizarre expedition undertaken by a rather makeshift vessel, a couple of ducks (one of which could have only guessed at its fate) and a group of men, who, when all was said and done, weren't quite sure how to sail a boat...Brilliantly told, EIGHT MEN AND A DUCK is a feel-good, hilarious tale of storms, amateur seamen and the occasional shark.
By Douglas Kennedy. 1988
BEYOND THE PYRAMIDS is a delightfully wry chronicle of travels through a country of incongruity - an Egypt encompassing a…diversity of cultural influences which often belies its image of 'archaeological theme park'.With an acute eye for the unusual, the interesting or the plain absurd, Douglas Kennedy takes us on a continually surprising tour beyond the pyramids, to a place where Bedouin watch American television in an oasis; where monks in the desert are computer-literate; and where an entire community of Cairo's poor have set up home in a cemetary.'BEYOND THE PYRAMIDS seems to me to have the satisfying insights of a Paul Theroux' Maeve Binchy
By John Berendt. 2005
A beguiling portrait of the city of Venice from the bestselling author of the classic true crime Midnight in the…Garden of Good and Evil.'Glittering, entertaining' Sunday TimesBeneath the exquisite facade of the world's most beautiful historic city, scandal, corruption and venality are rampant. Venice and its eccentric locals come to life in the words of exquisite storyteller, John Berendt. Ezra Pound and his mistress, Olga; poet Mario Stefani; the Rat Man of Treviso; or Mario Moro - self-styled carabiniere, fireman, soldier or airman, depending on the day of the week.'Funny, insightful, illuminating...[Venice] reveals itself, slowly, discreetly, under Berendt's gentle but persistent prying' Boston GlobeCity of Falling Angels is a mischievous, charming and compelling portrait of a beguiling city and its people.
By Douglas Kennedy. 1996
Though much has been written about the political implications of the religious revival which has engulfed America in recent years,…a question remains unanswered: what pushes its people into 'declaring for Jesus'?Douglas Kennedy spent a long hot summer cruising through that expanse of the American South known as 'The Bible Belt' exploring that question. In a remarkable journey into one of the strangest corners of the United States, Kennedy finds himself spending time in Miami with a one-time member of the Mafia turned charismatic preacher, discovering Christian heavy metal music in Nashville, and visiting Death Row in South Carolina with an evangelist who ministers to the condemned.Repeatedly discovering the extraordinary within the ordinary, IN GOD'S COUNTRY is a profound, yet brilliantly entertaining exploration of life in late twentieth century America.
By Douglas Kennedy. 1992
Money as a weapon. Money as revenge. Money as a substitute for sex and love. Money as status ... This…intriguing and extraordinarily well-written book is cheering for those of us who aren't rich, and will go happily to our graves without ever pulling down £300,000 per annum' Simon Hoggart, LITERARY REVIEW'How we chase Mammon defines us. Because, like it or not, we are what we earn,' CHASING MAMMON is the first travel book ever written about the uses of money and the attitudes of the wheelers and dealers in the international marketplace. Douglas Kennedy spent a year loitering with intent in six very disparate financial realms, including the Casablanca bourse (where stocks and bonds are listed on a blackboard), the squeaky-clean Singapore money markets, the Sydney futures market and the first Hungarian stock exchange to open since 1948. From the 'New Age' City folk in London, unsure whether greed really is good for you, to the tireless toilers of Wall Street, Knnedy's encounters with money-makers around the globe make for an exhilarating and quirkily original journey through the modern cash nexus.
By Billy Connolly. 2011
Britain's best-loved comedian hits the most famous highway in the world on an unforgettable journey.Billy Connolly, music-lover, biker, and scourge…of the beige and bland the world over, has dreamed about taking a trip on the legendary Route 66 since he heard Chuck Berry belting out one of the greatest rock 'n' roll records of all time. And now he's finally had the chance to do it, travelling every mile on his custom-made trike in search of the real America that can still be found beyond the nation's freeways.Taking in both the essential icons and the hidden gems of the 'Mother Road', Billy also meets up with plenty of the memorable characters who call it home. With his instinct for a good story, and the infectious enthusiasm that has made him our most engaging national treasures, Billy Connolly is the ultimate guide to the ultimate road trip.
By Hugh Miles. 2010
PLAYING CARDS IN CAIRO is a fly-on-the-wall account - like THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL - of life (for western readers)…in a strange and exotic environment. Hugh Miles lives in Cairo and is engaged to an Egyptian woman. Twice a week he plays cards with a small group of Arab, Muslim women and through this medium he explores their lives in modern Cairo, the greatest of Arab cities. It is a secretive, romantic, often deprived but always soulful existence for the women as they struggle with abusive husbands and philandering boyfriends. The book is a window onto a city - and a way of life - which is at a crucial juncture in its history. Hugh Miles, who knows the Arab world intimately, is the perfect guide.
By Richard Grant. 2003
Richard Grant has never spent more than twenty-two consecutive nights under the same roof. Motivated partly by his own wanderlust…and partly by his realisation that America is a land populated by wanderers, he set out to test his theory. AMERICAN NOMADS is the extraordinary result. 'Freedom is impossible and meaningless within the confines of sedentary society, the only true freedom is the freedom to cross the land, beholden to no one'. Grant follows the trails of the first European to wander across the American West (a failed conquistador); joins a group of rodeo-competing cowboys (and gets thrown by a mechanical bull); tells the story of the vanishing nomadic Indians and links up with 300,000 'gerito gypsies' - old people who live and travel in their RVs (Recreational Vehicles).'When all is said and done, there are two types of men: those who stay at home and those who do not' Kipling. This is the story of those that 'did not' who are populated - and are still travelling - in America.
By Roy Noble. 2010
Known throughout Wales for his gentle self-deprecating sense of humour and brilliant TV and radio broadcasts, BBC presenter Roy Noble…guides us through the "lay-bys" of his life; his warm, loving fifties Brynaman childhood; his college and teaching days; and his ultimate success in that most difficult of careers - showbusiness. A beautiful and entertaining depiction of the life of a truly extraordinary and much loved Welshman who has enriched the daily lives of millions. We meet his family and friends, the ordinary and the rich and famous. We rejoice at his triumphs, laugh at his blunders and cry at his unflinchingly honest depiction of personal tragedy.
By Greg McLean, Ricky Megee. 2009
'No shoes, no vehicle, no food, no water and no idea. I'd always been one of those blokes who ragged…on people who found themselves lost in the desert. Now I was one of those people. It was hard, desolate country for a man all alone in bare feet. Nevertheless, I started to walk. And walk. The more I walked, I figured, the less distance I'd have to travel to get found. It was faulty logic, but it was the best I could come up with. In April 2006 the news broke of an amazing feat of survival by a white man in one of the most inhospitable areas of Australia. Ricky Megee was found sheltering by a dam on a remote cattle property in the Northern Territory. After being abducted on the Buntine Highway, drugged, then left for dead, Ricky had walked for ten days in bare feet through unforgiving terrain in blistering heat. Stumbling upon a dam, he set up camp there and survived for almost three months on leeches, grasshoppers, frogs and plants, losing 60 kg in body weight the process. In "Left for Dead in the Outback", Ricky Megee gives a full and frank account of his abduction and survival, for the first time since his extraordinary rescue. Vividly told, its a gripping yet inspiring story of how one man endures a terrible ordeal and lives to tell the tale.