Travel Writers Pick the Best Travel Books of 2008

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  12.05.08 | 3:41 PM ET

Let the “Best of 2008” list season begin! In the Guardian, Rory MacLean asks several writers to choose their favorite travel books of 2008. World Hum contributor Rolf Potts is among the authors polled.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

4 Comments for Travel Writers Pick the Best Travel Books of 2008

tweedpipe 12.09.08 | 2:43 PM ET

Surely one of the most splendid of recent travel books is Charles Foster’s evocative, hilarious, poignant and moving ‘Tracking the Ark of the Covenant’ (Lion Hudson) - a saunter by camel, foot and various wrecked vehicles through the Sinai, Jordan, Israel, Ethiopia, and to the other places that more or less mad people think the Ark have been to - ending up in a field outside Coventry.

Sean O'Reilly 12.10.08 | 9:35 PM ET

I think the best travel book of 2008 is a book I only managed to read in 2008. A Traveller in Rome, written by HV Morton was published in 1957 by Dodd and Mead but it has to be one of the greatest travel books of all time.

Sean O’Reilly
Travelers’ Tales

John M. Edwards 12.11.08 | 4:39 PM ET

Hi Worldhum:

One of the neglected masterpieces of travel literature is surely Sir Fitzroy Maclean’s “Eastern Approaches.” Maclean, a founding member of the SAS, traveled around Soviet Central Asia (without permission) before and during World War II, and may have been the prototype for “James Bond.” (Ian Fleming would neither confirm nor deny if that was so.)

The tome is typified by Maclean’s ascerbic wit and understated humor. When some Soviet NKVD in Central Asia point their rifles at Maclean and say, in Russian, “Hands Up,” Maclean writes with breezy aplomb: “Up went my hands.”

Similarly, when meeting a Chinese official who says that “Maclean” translates into Chinese as “the horse that corrupts the morals,” the following exchange took place: “I hope you have nothing to do with the notorious Mohammedan leader, General Ma,” says the Chinese official. Maclean responds, “I, too, hope I do not.”

Anyway, it’s worth a go. Original copies are hard to find, but it was recently reissued by Penguin. I wrote an essay about him in the North Dakota Quarterly, which is available at their website.

John M. Edwards

Hannü 12.26.08 | 3:31 PM ET

The most democratic and down-to-earth book from Tibet in decades has got to be
Dialogues Tibetan Dialogues Han by Hannü - a travelogue from Tibet as well as a book of conversations with dozens of Tibetans from all walks of life in Tibet on a wide range of subjects - the Dalai Lama, polyandry, sky & water burials, the Muslims, the Han, Tibetan mastiffs, aweto, languages, thangka, Buddhism, independence and more.

Hannü has been travelling around Tibet for over a decade and chatted with hundreds of Tibetans in Tibet.

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