Russia

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…

Xiao Peng's "Ten Years Of Backpacking"
Austria

Xiao Peng

If this guy writes so well and goes to so many cool places, then just why is this book he wrote so bad?

Xiao Peng is a young Chinese white-collar worker who decides that he wants to see the world. He first travels around China, then ends up as an exchange student in the Netherlands. From there, he sets out to…

Colette Modiano's "Twenty Snobs and Mao"
China

Colette Modiano

What happens when a fashion-conscious European woman visits China at the height of socialism?

Colette Modiano is working as a travel coordinator in France when she decides to assemble a group of wealthy Europeans and embark with them on a trip to China. It is the year 1966, and getting a glimpse on Mao’s…

Wolfgang Büscher's "Berlin - Moscow"
Belarus

Wolfgang Büscher

Will the search for the “Russian soul” ruin what is otherwise a good book?

Wolfgang Büscher is a journalist who has a thing for walking, so it seems rather natural that he would decide to venture into Eastern Europe on foot. He starts in…

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…

Karl Bushby's "Giant Steps"
Alaska

Karl Bushby

Who in their right mind would have thought it was possible to cross the Bering Strait on foot?

in the late 1990s, Karl Bushby, a former paratrooper from Britain, sets out to do something extraordinary – he decides to walk all the way from Southern Chile to his home in Hull, England. So he flies down to Patagonia, walks to Central America, swims through the Darién Gap, gets a trolley built, continues on to Alaska and does some more swimming and wading – this time through the Bering Strait…

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…

Sven Hedin's "In The Heart Of Asia"
China

Sven Hedin

Are we looking at a career-obsessed explorer or at a blueprint for Indiana Jones?

at the height of the Great Game between Tsarist Russia and the British Empire, Swedish explorer Sven Hedin decides to follow in the footsteps of Ferdinand von Richthofen (who coined the term “Silk Road”) and Nikolai Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky and explore the Chinese Northwest…

Josef Martin Bauer's "As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me"
Armenia

Josef Martin Bauer

Does it matter to us if it all really happened this way?

in the early 1950s, accomplished German writer Josef Martin Bauer comes across Cornelius Rost, a man who claims to have escaped from one of the Soviet prison camps in Siberia. The story sounds hardly believable, but Bauer decides to write a book about it anyway…

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…

Nikolai Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky's "Mongolia and the Land of the Tanguts"
China

Nikolai Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky

Too much racism even for an imperialist?

During a time when Imperial Russia is rapidly expanding into Central Asia, geologist/adventurer Nikolai Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky gladly accepts a mission from the government: to explore and map the Mongolian and Tibetan regions of China…

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…

Marco Polo's "Description Of The World"
Afghanistan

Marco Polo

Why is this one still good today, even though a lot of it is untrue?

in the 13th century (during the Pax Mongolica) Marco Polo is a merchant’s son from Venice who accompanies his dad and his uncle on a decades-long trip to China and back. Upon his return, he claims to have gotten famous and rich in China, earning him the monicker “the millionaire”…