Sunday, August 21, 2011

Five best books about exploration

Laurence Bergreen's books include Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu and Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. In 2007 he named a five best list of books on exploration for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
In Xanadu
by William Dalrymple

No one could be further from the imperious Henry Stanley than William Dalrymple, a sensitive modern-day Oxford graduate who, in 1986, made a pilgrimage from Jerusalem to the ruins of the palace of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan, not far from Beijing. Dalrymple endures a succession of rides in impossibly dilapidated buses on a quixotic journey to the real Xanadu, where he and a friend, in a fine drizzle, declaim Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poetic fantasy of the place. Dalrymple, who has since written extensively about India and the Mughal empire, seems in his first book, "In Xanadu," as soft as sealing wax receiving its first impression. Yet his keen intelligence and critical faculties are already apparent. The result is "On the Road" for aesthetes.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue