Syria

Africa

Nadine Hudson

Why does too much often mean too little?

NH is a woman in her twenties from Switzerland who is struggling with mental health issues, most notably an eating disorder. She decides to embark on a backpacking trip through Asia. She travels on her own for a while, then she runs into a British traveler, marries him, and they continue to go on…

Jürgen Todenhöfer - "Inside IS"
Syria

Jürgen Todenhöfer

Why should you read this book now, and why is there no English edition?

Jürgen Todenhöfer is a German journalist with a background in politics and law who takes a strong interest in the Muslim world, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the winter of 2014/2015, he decides to contact members of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) in Syria in order to do some on-the-ground reporting. It takes a while for him to establish a basic level of trust, but he eventually receives an official invitation by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the organization. He travels to Turkey with his…

Heinz Helfgen's "I'm Cycling Around The World"
Albania

Heinz Helfgen

What were German readers looking for in a travel book after World War II?

in 1946, Heinz Helfgen, a former journalist from Germany turned Wehrmacht soldier comes from a POW camp, only to find out that things are pretty bad at home, especially money-wise. After struggling for a few years, he decides to support his family by riding a bicycle around the world and publishing a series of newspaper articles about it…

Guillaume de Rubrouck's "Account of the Mongols"
Armenia

William of Rubruck

How is it possible that sometimes 750 years don’t leave a trace?

in the middle of the 13th century, a Franciscan monk called William of Rubruck gets dispatched to Mongolia by his king, Louis IX of France. He is travels from Constantinople to Karakorum, where he is supposed to find out if the Mongolians (who have recently conquered large parts of the known world) can be persuaded to form an alliance against the Muslims…

Jehan de Mandeville's "The Travels"
Afghanistan

Jean de Mandeville

Why is it so much fun to read Medieval travel stories that we know are at least partly untrue?

in the 14th century, English knight Jean de Mandeville claims to have traveled around much of the known (and unknown) world, much like Marco Polo before him or Johann Schiltberger shortly after, or Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuda at the same time…

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta's "The Travels"
Afghanistan

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta

Did conservative ethics turn this great adventure story into such a slow read?

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta is only a very young man when he embarks on his hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. But he doesn’t stop there. Instead he goes on and on and on, and several travels during the next three decades will take him almost everywhere in…

Johann Schiltberger's "The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger"
Afghanistan

Johann Schiltberger

Is this guy our average Joe from the Middle Ages?

Johann Schiltberger is still a teenager when he embarks on what historians have later dubbed the “Last Crusade”. Eventually, he gets captured in the Battle of Nicopolis and serves as a slave to the Ottomans for six years. When the Ottomans themselves get defeated by the infamous Tamerlane, Schiltberger becomes a slave to the Timurid Empire for fifteen years…