A Travellerspoint blog

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

by Mark Adams

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The Author

Mark Adams is writer and editor, working with some of America's best-known magazines. He has contributed to G.Q., The New York Times Magazine, Fortune and is a contributing editor for National Geographic Adventure. His first book, Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet, received rave reviews upon it's release in 2009. Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time is Mr. Adam's latest addition.

The Introduction

The ruins of Machu Picchu, located in the Peruvian Andes, have become one of South America's most frequented tourist attractions. In recent years, access to Machu Picchu has come in several forms, from hiking the Inca Trail to the bus rides up the Hiram Bingham Highway to taking the local train. But, in 1911, the only route was hiking the trail, which is exactly what explorer, Hiram Bingham III did with the aid of local guides. He is credited with 'discovering' the ruins and made subsequent visits in 1912 and 1915. He also published his book Lost City of the Incas in 1948. Amidst the accolades of Bingham's find, the controversy began. Was he truly the first to discover this forgotten piece of Incan history or had others come before him? There are many claims to the latter. Mark Adams set out to follow in Bingham's footsteps and possibly uncover the truth.

Review

Mark Adams' 2011 book Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time gives the "armchair traveler" a chance to make the trip. Of course, one can read Bingam's Inca Land or Lost City of the Incans but Adams' book has made the trek pure joy. From chewing cocoa leaves (for altitude sickness) to addressing why and who built Machu Picchu - is it pre-Incan, built a thousand years before Pizzaro's arrival or as a "Camp David" for the most notable Ican leader Pachacutec. Is Indiana Jones really based on Hiram Bingham? All this and more is revealed as Mark Adams leads you on a true life adventure.

I loved this book! Imagine hiring a guide and trekking this amazing area. My husband and I visited Machu Picchu two years ago and reading Mark Adams' Turn Right at Machu Picchu brought back fond memories. We didn't hike the Incan Trail like Mark did, we took the local train. Of course one could also travel via the Orient Express!

This book was received courtesy of Dutton, Penguin Publishing USA. The review was written by Deb Martens.

Find this book on Amazon: Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time

Posted by Isadora 07:12 Comments (0)

American Portraits: 100 Countries

by Michael Clinton

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Editor's Note: The Book Club blog style design (means coding), only allows for an image of a book's cover art to be displayed in any given review. I have linked two of the book's featured participants to my gallery if you wish to view their images. I definitely recommend checking them out.

The Author

Michael Clinton is President and Marketing/Publishing Director for Hearst Magazines. He oversees titles such as Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics, O: The Oprah Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and several others. Mr. Clinton is also an avid photographer and traveler. He has seamlessly woven those two passions together, creating Wanderlust: 100 Countries, Global Snaps: 500 Photographs from 7 Continents and Global Faces: 500 Photographs from 7 Continents. American Portraits: 100 Countries is his latest addition to his on-going repertoire of published books.

The Introduction

America. And by that, I mean the U.S., the U.S.A., the United States of America. No matter how you write it or verbally express it - America means freedom, opportunity, dreams coming true and much more for many people from many countries. Although the term "melting pot" did not come into use until 1908 (taken from the title of a play of the same name by Israel Zangwill), America has held up to the term. It is a country of indigenous and immigrant people, all coming together as one nation. It is not a perfect society by any means, nor will I try to state it is, but it is the largest society with the most diverse components and history.

It is due to this complexity, and own heritage, that Michael Clinton has taken his latest literary journey. In his own words, "In my travels to nearly 120 countries around the world, I've never met anyone who has not been intrigued or hasn't dreamed about coming to America... to visit, to work or to start over again." With that in mind, Mr. Clinton set out to "find Americans whose bloodlines all added up to one hundred countries of origin". He accomplished that task with 93 individuals who, like you and me, are not celebrities, politicians or other high-profile figures. They are the everyday work-a-world people who found prosperity in America.

The Review

American Portraits: 100 Countries is actually a 'coffee table' type of book. It's hard-covered, large in size and not something you would take traveling with you. But, it is a very interesting read. The portrait photographs which accompany each entry are worth the "price of admission" alone. As an example - take Teszar, his parents immigrated to Canada, then to America, from Hungary.

American Broadcasting Company's (ABC) News Correspondent/Anchor, David Muir, wrote the forward for this publication. I'm a bit biased because I watch ABC news nightly and like Mr. Muir's reporting very much. But, his forward did honestly capture the essence of American Portraits. Having traveled the world, he understood the "pull" that America has on so many other people globally.

I must admit it only took a short period of time to read all of the entries. Again, as mentioned above, it is a coffee-table-style-book. Each description is a paragraph in length. I have found myself going back and re-reading many of them. From Mayanna Prak's family escaping Pol Pot's regime in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during 1975 to Renan Pierre's family fleeing Haiti for Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) then to America. The personal stories, though short in length, are genuinely enlightening.

I'm married to an Armenian/Turk/Swede/Norwegian. Though neither of us are into genealogy, the ancestral stories we have heard have been fascinating. I'm an adopted child so only know I am part English. The rest is a toss-up and maybe one of the reasons I keep going back to this book - these participants know their roots and are very proud of their accomplishments in America. I do know it is a book I will keep on my coffee table and revisit on a regular basis as it is inspirational.

This book was received courtesy of American Portraits by Michael Clinton, copyright © 2010, published by Glitterati Incorporated.

Find this book on Amazon: American Portraits: 100 Countries

Posted by Isadora 13:52 Comments (0)

The Global Soul

Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home by Pico Iyer

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The world is very connected now. Not just in the digital sense, but also in the physical sense. Someone boarding a plane right now in Cheyenne, Wyoming could be in Kuala Lumpur in under 30 hours. Looking around at the other passengers boarding, our traveller departing Wyoming may see many folks leaving for holidays, with more travelling for work. Some of those people, though, would be travelling on one way tickets, uprooting themselves and moving around the globe for a new life. The International Organisation for Migration estimates that over 3% of the world’s population are migrants, 214 million people living in countries not their own.

Global Souls are voluntary migrants, not forced to leave by strife, disaster or economic imperative. “A person like me can’t really call himself an exile (who traditionally looked back to a home now lost), or an expatriate (who’s generally posted abroad for a living); I’m not really a nomad (whose patterns are guided by the seasons and tradition); and I’ve never been subject to the refugee’s violent disruptions,” explains Iyer in his book, The Global Soul: Jet-Lag, Shopping Malls and The Search for Home. The people, who are “best characterized by the fact of falling between all categories,” Iyer calls Global Souls.

Pico Iyer is a man without a home, Indian by descent, British by birth, spending time jetting between England and California as a boy and living in Japan. In India, where he looks like the locals, he can’t speak the language. In England, where he sounds like a local, he looks foreign. In Japan, where he lives, he doesn’t fit in at all. “The only home that any Global Soul can find these days is, it seems, in the midst of the alien and the indecipherable,” Iyer says.

To examine these Global Souls, Iyer sets out on a jet setting trip across the world. Forced out of his parent’s California home by a forest fire, Iyer comes across a family of Mexican migrants, living unseen in an upper-middle class neighbourhood of Los Angeles. The contrast between the journey and experience of the family of economic migrants and Iyer’s own migrant journey sets the stage to explain the Global Soul.

From there, Iyer globe hops, examining the lives of Global Souls like himself. A Chapter on Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) looks at the moment of transition, and the hopes and dreams those migrating have of their new home. Hong Kong sets the stage for an examination of what this merging and mixing of cultures is doing to our sense of place and sense of self. Toronto, my former home and a city that prides itself on being multicultural, allows Iyer to question our sense of national identity. I found myself reflected in many of the people that Iyer meets along these chapters. They are people who are displaced, but somehow find some comfort in that displacement. Like fuzzy signals on a slightly mistuned radio, Global Souls are comfortable in being slightly out of tune with their surroundings.

A chapter on Atlanta, home to global brands Coca-Cola and CNN, allows Iyer to examine what global culture means. This is where the ten year old book starts to feel dated. Written in the late 1990s and published in 2000, I couldn’t help but feel that so much has happened since then to change our view of the wider world. Written before the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, which marked the mainstream awareness of the growing anti-globalisation movement, a movement further strengthened by the recession of 2008 to the present, I wondered what the Global Soul would make of the international brands now. What impact did September 11th, and the follow on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have on voluntary migrants views of the world, or even the experience of LAX? Technology plays a big part in the lives of many of the Global Souls in the book, allowing them to live abroad but stay connected. However, much of the tech seems positively quaint now, and I couldn’t help but wonder if high speed internet, special interest forums and social media were making us more globally connected or less. Does living in another country, but still interacting daily with your friends back in your home country make us more globally minded, or just physically distance but still locally connected? Though the chapter seems dated, at least it does raise some interesting questions to contemplate.

Iyer returns to his place of birth, England, to examine the immigrant experience there. Can a migrant, or even second and third generation immigrants, ever fit in, or are their forever doomed to feel somewhat displaced. Finally Iyer examines his own place of residence, a rural village in Japan. The final two chapters, where Iyer examines his birth home of England and current home of Japan are unfocused, and the head of steam that the book had gained in the early chapters, with observations building upon each other, seems to disperse without resolution.

However, the early chapters contain more than enough to get a Global Soul thinking about their existence, and those that live abroad or enjoy being in the company the foreign should find some interesting personal insights in the book. It could be the perfect book to keep a new migrant occupied on a flight from Cheyenne to Kuala Lumpur.

Find this book on Amazon: The Global Soul: Jet-Lag, Shopping Malls and the Search for Home

Posted by GregW 01:57 Tagged books Comments (0)

Outwitting the Gestapo

By Lucie Aubrac

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This year witnessed the 70th anniversary of the Fall of France, the event which signalled German invasion and an end to the so-called Phoney War. However, this year also witnessed the same anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's 'Appeal of June 18', where he ignited "La Flamme de la Résistance". Calling for a continuation of the war in France, against the armistice being prepared by the French government, this appeal by de Gaulle signalled a major step in the history of the resistance in France.

First published in 1984, Lucie Aubrac’s memoires Outwitting the Gestapo detail her involvement in the resistance in and around Lyon, from May 1943 to February 1944. The wife of resistance leader Raymond Aubrac, Lucie was heavily involved in the activities of the resistance, including the daring rescue of her own husband from the clutches of the Gestapo. These activities also led to numerous meetings, under false pretences, with the "Butcher of Lyon" himself, Klaus Barbie.

Aside from the humble heroism and determination illustrated by Lucie in these events, what makes this account a particularly engrossing read is the personable and sometimes poetic style in which it is written. Despite all the desperate struggles which the family and their friends find themselves in, there is a deep romanticism from the author, displaying an honest passion towards France, everyday people, and the notions of liberty and free will. The perspective of a woman in the resistance is also rewarding, as Lucie demonstrates both her feminist and maternal aspects, the latter highlighted by the fact that she is pregnant for the nine months that the book covers.

This account, although the view of just one resistor over a set period of time, embodies in it the heart of the resistance. It is a call to remember all those who played their part, whether it is Raymond Aubrac as a leader, a shop owner, or the families that help conceal resistors when they are in hiding. As the memories of the 40s begin to fade, perhaps now it is more important than ever to pick up a book such as this and remind ourselves of why we can travel through Europe in relative peace, and of the contribution to this made by the participants and supporters of the French Resistance.

Find this book on Amazon: Outwitting the Gestapo

Posted by Craggy 14:14 Archived in France Tagged books Comments (0)

Letters From My Windmill

By Alphonse Daudet

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"Letters From My Windmill" is my favourite travel campanion. I have had this book for years, and brought it on countless solitary trips, and could never bear to finish it.

Alphonse Daudet was a well known writer in his time, now over shadowed by time; and retreat into the lesser known French writers category. A native of Nimes in Provence; he had an immense love of the Provence countryside where he spent a happy childhood. This work is almost an auto biography where he described his memories of random people, experiences of the countryside while living in a deserted windmill somewhere in the region of Arles.

Daudet had a strong narrative style in his writing. The first line "It is the rabbits who have been taken aback!" sets the tone for the whole book. Every line speaks of the writer's fondness for the people and the places of Provence. He came alive in these surroundings, and he speaks with distaste of the city, Paris.

I brought this book with me when I travel to Provence last year. At the top of Les-Baux, there was the remain of a windmill, and imagine my delight in coming across it! Granted that it was not "the windmill", but it was still pretty special, especially as there was mention of Daudet in the tourists' introduction in the audio guide.

There was something enchanting in the way a forgotten time came alive in the book. Quirky characters, beautiful landscapes, humor, sadness, and a poignant sense of beauty. Every story is a gem, it was the little things that made a life; the really old couples in "The Old Couple", living on nothing more than a promise of having their beloved son back with them, and Daudet's own experience when he visited them, and was treated like their son, simply because he was a friend of their son. The dignity, longing, and humourous traits of the old couple was so powerful in allowng the characters to make an impressions, and tug at your heart.

To me, the stories in the book also speaks of the strong, resiliant, cheerful spirit of the Provence people. With the mistral ravaging through the countryside, the people of Provence are used to the rough, living their life alongside the wind; and making light of the hardship casted their way by nature. There was a certain stubborness, refusal to bow down to circumstances that characterise the people of Provence, which Daudet fully appreciated, and brought to life in his stories.

Buy Letters From My Windmill now on Amazon.com

Posted by Irise Rain 11:35 Archived in France Tagged books Comments (0)

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