978-0-7195-5849-8 / 0719558492

Travels With a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah

by MacKintosh-Smith, Tim

Publisher:John Murray Pubs Ltd



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About the book:

The Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award is not handed out lightly, and is almost invariably given to travel writing of a rare order. Tim Mackintosh-Smith is a very worthy recipient, and Travels with a Tangerine will no doubt inspire (as did his earlier Yemen) comparisons to the giants of writing about the Arabic world, from Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom to Wilfred Thesiger.

Travels with a Tangerine is subtitled A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah, and finds Mackintosh-Smith utilising his impressive knowledge of Arabic studies in a fascinating journey to find the real Arabia. For the past 17 years (when not travelling), he has lived in the Yemeni capital San'a, and this invaluable background has made him the perfect guide to the exotic landscapes of Arabia. Here, the author travels in the footsteps of a ghost. Ibn Battutah was the greatest traveller of the pre-mechanical age, setting out in 1325 from his native Tangier on a pilgrimage to Mecca. His journey took 29 years, and he visited most of the known world, travelling three times the distance that Marco Polo covered. Mackintosh-Smith set out to write a "trailer" or continuation of the original writings, and this utterly fascinating book covers the first stage in the Moroccan's bizarre and dangerous journey (brigands were only one of the dangers he faced). The destinations include a quaint Islamic Butlin's in the Egyptian desert, the shores of the Cimmerian Bosphoros and some of the most impressive cities of medieval Islam. All the details of his journey are conjured up with maximum vividness, from buffalo milk puddings and fishbone houses to the legendary dancing dervishes. The writing, always spare and elegant, makes this a highly compelling read for either the adventurer or the armchair traveller. --Barry Forshaw

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