IMMEASURABLE WORLD, by Atkins NOTE: Meeting Online

Travel
Tuesday, July 6, 7:00 pm

The Travel Book Group is led by Katie Mathews and meets online the 1st Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. To join, please email: bookgroups@politics-prose.com

The Immeasurable World: A Desert Journey By William Atkins Cover Image

The Immeasurable World: A Desert Journey (Paperback)

$17.00


Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Winner of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year (UK)

"William Atkins is an erudite writer with a wonderful wit and gaze and this is a new and exciting beast of a travel book."—Joy Williams 

In the classic literary tradition of Bruce Chatwin and Geoff Dyer, a rich and exquisitely written account of travels in eight deserts on five continents that evokes the timeless allure of these remote and forbidding places.


One-third of the earth's surface is classified as desert. Restless, unhappy in love, and intrigued by the Desert Fathers who forged Christian monasticism in the Egyptian desert, William Atkins decided to travel in eight of the world's driest, hottest places: the Empty Quarter of Oman, the Gobi Desert and Taklamakan deserts of northwest China, the Great Victoria Desert of Australia, the man-made desert of the Aral Sea in Kazkahstan, the Black Rock and Sonoran Deserts of the American Southwest, and Egypt's Eastern Desert. Each of his travel narratives effortlessly weaves aspects of natural history, historical background, and present-day reportage into a compelling tapestry that reveals the human appeal of these often inhuman landscapes.
WILLIAM ATKINS' first book, The Moor, was described as a 'classic' by the London Observer and shortlisted for the Thwaites Wainwright Prize. He is a former editorial director of Pan Macmillan UK, and his longform journalism has appeared in the Guardian and Granta. In 2016 he was a recipient of the British Library Eccles Prize. He lives in London.
Product Details ISBN: 9781101873410
ISBN-10: 1101873418
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Pages: 368
Language: English
"The Immeasurable World courts comparisons with the capaciously learned nature writing of John McPhee. But there’s also an open-ended spiritual quest to Mr. Atkins' sojourns, which follow closely in the footsteps of religious and literary forerunners who were lured by the rewards of extreme renunciation... Peace of mind, isolation, a heightened attentiveness spurred by the proximity to death—these are conditions for clear, beautiful writing, and Mr. Atkins frequently meets the high standards of his precursors."
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal 

"[Atkins] deftly turns his detouring into unified and potent storytelling... His descriptions... are, at times, intoxicating... [and] leavened by drily comic observations... If the aim of modern travel writing—that most open-ended of genres—is to teach readers something new of the world... then this book has richly succeeded."
The Times Literary Supplement (London) 

“Being a bit of a desert rat, I began The Immeasurable World with interest and finished enthralled and grievously enlightened. The strangeness and inhospitable nature of the world’s great deserts—and they are so variously singular—have not prevented humankind from assaulting and perverting their inconsolable beauties. William Atkins is an erudite writer with a wonderful wit and gaze and this is a new and exciting beast of a travel book.”
—Joy Williams 

"Perceptive and witty... An entertaining tour." 
—Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post 

"Atkins is not in thrall to deserts... but loves them for their austerity, and the clarity of thought they grant... Gorgeous." 
—Gavin Francis, The Guardian 

"Atkins’ richly written account of his travels across deserts around the world brings Bruce Chatwin to mind, along with others who, like Atkins, have explored and have anaffinity for the solitude and vast expanse of the Earth’s empty places, such as Wallace Stegner, Gretel Ehrlich, and Sara Wheeler. Like theirs, Atkins’ prose is gorgeous... He also evokes the spirit of earlier desert travelers, including St. Anthony, T. E. Lawrence, and John Wesley Powell... Atkins’ book of journeys will be a modern-day classic."
Booklist, starred review 

"A rich and refreshing travelogue... A genius idea... An account of remarkable scope and depth... Ever alert and always engaging, [Atkins] has achieved that very rare feat: to see the world in a grain of sand."
Financial Times 

"Full of delight and delights... [Atkins] is a seriously fine descriptive writer... A wonderful book."
—Sara Maitland, Tablet

"British author [William] Atkins takes readers on a thoroughly enjoyable tour of the world's deserts...[He] also takes a contemporary look at [them]... [and] infuses his travel writing with poetic prose (he describes the Great Australian Bight as 'a callused web of skin between two digits') to describe the beauty of what many consider to be wastelands. Atkins's thoughtful book is a wonderfully satisfying travelogue." 
Publishers Weekly 

"A treat for desert lovers... Atkins is a gifted and interesting writer, with a deft turn of phrase and an original mind. He uncovers the many guises of the desert with much imagination, insight and wit."
Justin Morazi, The Spectator

“The Earth's surface may be two-thirds sea, but of its land, one-third is desert: an equally shifting, fluid place, fugitive and untold. Until William Atkins came along. In sublime prose that veers from startling human and natural history to dreamlike personal experience, The Immeasurable World brings apparently barren places to life in a brilliant, revelatory narrative. The author becomes a kind of sensor in the wilderness, electrically gathering together these stories. The result is a book in which to get lost and find another world.”
—Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan, or the Whale 

"A fascinating look at seven deserts... The subject is riveting, the gorgeous prose reminiscent of nature observers from Thoreau to Leopold. Lovers of good descriptive writing will eat up this book."
Library Journal, starred review

"Travel writing at its finest. It not only transports but gives access to the layered existence of each place – by the final page your world has become pared back but also amplified."
Sydney Morning Herald 

"After having taken readers deep inside the moorlands of his native England, Will Atkins now journeys far afield into the world’s deserts to look at not just those austere, sometimes forbidding places but also the things we feel compelled to build there: monasteries, border walls, nuclear sites. Had he been born a dozen or so decades ago, he might have been sharing a fire with T.E. Lawrence or a hookah with Gertrude Bell. As it is, he joins a small company of modern literary desert rats who are his fans as well as peers. Readers will be enthralled by his travels—and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where his far-roving mind will wander to next.”
—Gregory McNamee, author of Tortillas, Tiswin, and T-Bones: A Food History of the Southwest

"A wide-ranging travelogue... [Atkins] has an acute eye and delivers... satisfying journalistic accounts of the world's hottest, driest regions."
Kirkus Reviews

"Vigorously involving... A series of passionate, eloquent dispatches from the hungry sands."
—Steve Donoghue,
Christian Science Monitor

"Atkins’s study of desert life in seven journeys is wide-ranging, deep – and far from dry... Atmospheric, geological and geographical features that contribute to desert formation are well handled here, as are modern political issues... Delightfully variegated... An entertaining volume."
The Observer 

THE NILE, by Wilkinson NOTE: Meeting Online

Travel
Tuesday, June 1, 7:00 pm

The Travel Book Group is led by Katie Mathews and meets online the 1st Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. To join, please email: bookgroups@politics-prose.com

The Nile: Travelling Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present (Vintage Departures) By Toby Wilkinson Cover Image

The Nile: Travelling Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present (Vintage Departures) (Paperback)

$19.00


Backordered
The Nile, like all of Egypt, is both timeless and ever-changing. In these pages, renowned Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson takes us on a journey downriver that is both history and travelogue. We begin at the First Nile Cataract, close to the modern city of Aswan. From there, Wilkinson guides us through the illustrious nation birthed by this great river.
        We see Thebes, with its Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, and Luxor Temple. We visit the fertile Fayum, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and finally, the pulsing city of Cairo, where the Arab Spring erupted on the bridges over the water. Along the way, Wilkinson introduces us to the gods, pharaohs, and emperors who joined their fate to the Nile and gained immortality; and to the adventurers, archaeologists, and historians who have all fallen under its spell. Peerlessly erudite, vividly told, The Nile brings the course of this enduring river into stunning view.

Toby Wilkinson earned a degree in Egyptology from the University of Cambridge, and is the recipient of several prestigious awards given in his field. He has published nine books, and received the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for his previous book, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt. He has appeared on radio and television as an expert on ancient Egyptian civilization and is a member of the international editorial board of the Journal of Egyptian History. Since 2003, he has been a Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge. He lives in Suffolk, England.

www.tobywilkinson.net 

Product Details ISBN: 9780804168908
ISBN-10: 0804168903
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Pages: 336
Language: English
Series: Vintage Departures
“Engaging. . . . Evocative. . . . The narrative moves comfortably among different time periods . . . smoothly guiding us on our Nile journey.” —The Washington Post

“Fascinating. . . . Compelling. . . . The Nile emerges as potent as ever, the sole bringer of life to Egypt.” —The Guardian (London)

“First-rate. . . . The Nile and the history it has engendered still manage to stir something in all of us.” —The Daily Beast
 
“Impressive. . . . Hugely entertaining. . . . Wilkinson’s book is bound to reawaken the joys of armchair traveling.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Tell[s] the entire layered story of Egyptian civilization. Wilkinson deftly mingles ancient lore from the Pharaonic past with tales of 19th-century tomb robbers and contemporary clashes between the competing imperatives to develop and preserve sites along the riverbanks.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Masterful. . . .  Thoroughly enjoyable and gloriously catholic.” —The Times (London)

“Dexterously done and rich in detail. . . .  This is infectious stuff that should surely inspire its readers to a fresh bout of Egyptian adventures.” —The Telegraph (London)

“In this felucca voyage of the Nile, you see all of its history and you are constantly reminded that Egypt is also a living nation of today. . . . [Wilkinson] has done for popularizing this land what Michio Kaku and DeGrasse Tyson have done for astronomy and physics.” —The New York Journal of Books

“[A] gently meandering tour of the Nile River in the company of a deeply knowledgeable guide. . . . To understand the cataclysmic changes gripping Egypt at the moment, eminent British Egyptologist Wilkinson urges a return to the heart of the country, the Nile, the source of the country’s economy, spiritual beliefs and political structure.” —Kirkus Reviews

THE LUNATIC EXPRESS, by Hoffman NOTE: Meeting Online

Travel
Tuesday, April 6, 7:00 pm

The Travel Book Group is led by Katie Mathews and meets the 1st Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World . . . via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes By Carl Hoffman Cover Image

The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World . . . via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes (Paperback)

$15.00


Special Order—Subject to Availability

Indonesian Ferry Sinks.  Peruvian Bus Plunges Off Cliff. African Train Attacked by Mobs. 

Whenever he picked up the newspaper, Carl Hoffman noticed those short news bulletins, which seemed about as far from the idea of tourism, travel as the pursuit of pleasure, as it was possible to get. So off he went, spending six months circumnavigating the globe on the world's worst conveyances: the statistically most dangerous airlines, the most crowded and dangerous ferries, the slowest buses, and the most rickety trains. The Lunatic Express takes us into the heart of the world, to some its most teeming cities and remotest places: from Havana to Bogotá on the perilous Cuban Airways. Lima to the Amazon on crowded night buses where the road is a washed-out track. Across Indonesia and Bangladesh by overcrowded ferries that kill 1,000 passengers a year. On commuter trains in Mumbai so crowded that dozens perish daily, across Afghanistan as the Taliban closes in, and, scariest of all, Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., by Greyhound.

The Lunatic Express is the story of traveling with seatmates and deckmates who have left home without American Express cards on conveyances that don't take Visa, and seldom take you anywhere you'd want to go. But it's also the story of traveling as it used to bea sometimes harrowing trial, of finding adventure in a modern, rapidly urbanizing world and the generosity of poor strangers, from ear cleaners to urban bus drivers to itinerant roughnecks, who make up most of the world's population. More than just an adventure story, The Lunatic Express is a funny, harrowing and insightful look at the world as it is, a planet full of hundreds of millions of people, mostly poor, on the move and seeking their fortunes.

Carl Hoffman has driven the Baja 1000, ridden reindeer in Siberia, sailed an open dinghy 250 miles, and traveled to 65 countries.  When he's able to stay put for more than a few months at a time, he lives in Washington, D.C., where his three children make fun of him on a pretty constant basis. He is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler and Wired magazines, and his stories about travel and technology also appear in Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal and Popular Mechanics.
Product Details ISBN: 9780767929813
ISBN-10: 0767929810
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: June 7th, 2011
Pages: 304
Language: English
“This book is fabulous. The lean description, the weave of old and new perspective, the personalities, the real-people wisdom, and that the danger is as real as we don't want to think it is.  The Lunatic Express is refreshing, liberating, and a paean to true Travel.  Hoffman opened my eyes to the off-the-grid traveler, clearly most of the world, and made me cry. The last pages struck home; the duality of escape and harbor are the blessing and curse of life.” -- Keith Bellows, Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic Traveler
 
 
“Reinvented the travel log as the supreme theater of paradox…a search for an unholy grail—something freakish; something dangerous; something authentic… Take this ride.” -Richard Bangs, Producer/Host of the Public Television series, Adventures with Purpose

"There are two possibilities: we move through the world, or the world moves through us. Carl Hoffman's clever, funny, fearsome book does both. It takes us into the frantic fear and pitiless extinctions that punctuate the simple struggle to get from home to anywhere, for so many of the world's people. But it also takes us into the heart of the writer: and that journey, with its beauty and compassion, its conscience and courage, is so thrilling that we hope the ride never ends." -- Gregory David Roberts, author of SHANTARAM

“Carl Hoffman, a courageous and interestingly untroubled man from Washington, D.C., has done a great service by reminding us, in The Lunatic Express, of this abiding truism: that the world’s ordinary traveler is compelled to endure all too much while undertaking the grim necessities of modern movement…Mr. Hoffman spent a fascinating year going around the world precisely as most of the world's plainest people do—not on JetBlue or United or American or Trailways, modes of transport that look positively heavenly by comparison, but in the threadbare conveyances of the planet's billions….He learns along the way a great deal about the habits of the world's peripatetic poor, and he writes about both the process and the people with verve and charity, making this book both extraordinary and extraordinarily valuable….It is a wise and clever book too, funny, warm and filled with astonishing characters. But it also represents an important exercise, casting an Argus-eye on a largely invisible but un-ignorable world. It is thus a book that deserves to be read widely. Perhaps in some airport in a blinding rainstorm in the Midwest, while waiting for yet another infernally delayed American plane.” – Simon Winchester, Wall Street Journal

Pages