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Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela (Culture Trails: Adventures in Travel) Paperback – 4 May 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (4 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226731278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226731278
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 303,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Conrad Rudolph is a professor of medieval art and chair of the art history department at the University of California, Riverside. This is his fourth book.

Inside This Book

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With the exception of warfare, pilgrimage to a holy site was the single greatest adventure a person could have in the Middle Ages. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James G. McKelvie on 21 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Although the camino has changed a little from the time Conrad Rudolph walked it (1994, I think), this book is a gem among a lot of dross written about the camino. His reflections are thought-provoking and his style is very readable.

A must for any past or future pilgrom.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Best book in every way 2 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Why do so many travelers who trudge the long, dusty road to the Spanish pilgrimage city of Santiago de Conmpostela choose to pen books on the subject? And why are so many of them published? Is it because this varied and sometimes arduous journey continues, after more than 1000 years, to inspire and fascinate those who take up its challenge? A simple subject search at this site will deliver dozens of related titles.
Having read many of them, I can attest that this new one, by the art historian Conrad Rudolph, is overall the best. It is short, cheap, and in about 120 pages, packs in everything: a history of pilgrimage as well as a personal account of the author's own trek over 1000 miles, that promises to engage the mind and senses of even the most skeptical reader or seasoned traveler. Some quixotic photographs and great advice for anyone who wants to embark on this trek round out the volume. The writing is wonderful. It is, in a word, a gem. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the middle ages, in northern Spain and southern France, or in making the pilgrimage, whether on the actual road or in the imagination, coming to the experience from the cozy comfort of an armchair.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Rudolph has walked the walk. Not your ordinary travel book 9 July 2004
By Timecheck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I glanced at the beginning of Pilgrimage To The End Of The World, meaning to start reading it later. Supper neglected, I didn't put it down till I finished the last page. This morning I read through it again.
In 1996 Conrad Rudolph walked the one thousand mile trail from Le Puy in France to Santiago de Compostela on the western side of Spain. This small book - 131 pages - 4 chapters - has a disconcertingly accurate capture of the feelings that come with being a long distance pilgrim.
The first chapter talks about the pilgrimage in the middle ages and its continuation in some form to the present time - a lively presentation of medieval history. Chapters two and three were the ones that gave me flashbacks.
In two, The Pilgrimage, his stories of feelings, encounters, experiences from the 1996 trip uniquely identify that long journey. In three, Views of the Journey, there are stark black and white photos, usually accompanied by a half page or more of text. The black and white works well. This is a serious journey and they convey that impression.
Chapter four is the how to part: Doing the Pilgrimage. There is a lot of good information here. I disagree on a few things like cotton and external backpacks, but this is something that worked for him. Gear constantly changes. I think if he made this trip again in 2005 he would vary his gear list, so check other references such as the online Camino forums before going.
Dogs. Clearly in 1996 dogs were a frequent problem. I've traveled the Spain part in 2001, and part of the French route in 2004 and never had a problem with a loose dog, but to the point for this paragraph: to the author: I want to know the rest of the story of "the four certifiably homicidal German Shepherds" ..."crazy with blood lust". How did you escape? Please post on a camino forum or publisher website.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A rationalist walks the Camino. 3 July 2007
By Erik Olson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As I write this review, I'm wearing the boots I plan to use on my own Camino pilgrimage next week. In addition to breaking them in, I've been preparing my body, mind, and heart for the long walk to Santiago. Reading "Pilgrimage to the End of the World" was an enjoyable and necessary part of that process.

Conrad Rudolph's book on the Camino de Santiago has four parts: 1) some historical background, 2) an account of his trek, 3) a series of black-and-white personal photographs with explanations that range from a paragraph to a page or so long, and 4) a practical guide (what to wear, how to pack, etc.). Despite its brevity (only 131 pages), Mr. Rudolph's memoir is packed with useful and interesting information. The surprising revelation that the author is a rationalist only serves to make his tale more compelling, especially considering the profound effect a pilgrimage usually done for spiritual reasons had upon him.

Indeed, the Camino began as an important medieval religious pilgrimage to Santiago, alleged burial place of St. James. But it has grown to accommodate folks on quests of many kinds. What's ironic about Mr. Rudolph's journey is that despite his rationalist mindset, he walked the farthest distance of any pilgrim, faith-based or otherwise, I've read about so far. He began in Le Puy, France, went through Santiago, and concluded in Finisterre - the "End of the World" on the Spanish west coast. That's about double the walking distance from the usual starting point of St. Jean Pied de Port, a French town on the Spanish border. And I thought we religious folk were supposed to be the crazy ones...

Despite his excellent account and helpful information, I part ways with the author in one key area: his firm recommendation of an external-frame pack. He's correct about the increased ventilation it offers, since the external frame holds the pack away from one's back. But according to another pilgrim's memoir, you'll sweat no matter what kind of pack you carry. Also, there are far more sizes and types of internal-frame packs to choose from. At REI I found only one model of external frame pack for sale among the plethora of internal packs - a forlorn Kelty similar to the one the author used. Bottom line, I'd say that an internal-frame pack is a better choice (I'm taking a 4,300 cubic-inch Gregory Baltoro).

At any rate, "Pilgrimage to the End of the World" is a must-read for anyone contemplating, or actually preparing for, the Camino pilgrimage. Other helpful and inspirational books I used to get ready include: "Buen Camino," by Jim & Eleanor Clem, "Camino Chronicle" by Susan Alcorn, and "Fumbling," by Kerry Egan (also, check the Confraternity of St. James' website for lots of good info and up-to-date Camino guidebooks). If you choose to go, let me be the first you wish you a Buen Camino!

UPDATE 9/7/07: On 7/14/07 I stepped off in St. Jean Pied-de-Port (France), and on 8/24/07 I walked into Santiago, Spain. Turned out that the boots I mentioned in the first paragraph were too heavy, so I bought a lighter Spanish pair in Logrono that served me well. My internal-frame pack was the Camino standard (although the model I had was too large and initially weighted down with unnecessary stuff) - out of the hundreds of pilgrims I saw, only a couple had external frame packs. At any rate, I recommend this book as necessary reading for anyone planning to walk the Way.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Short and Sweet 26 Feb. 2005
By Linda Pagliuco - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wonder if Conrad Rudolph is a man of few words. He has certainly managed to convey the essence of his 2-1/2 month pilgrimage in only 131 pages. Rudolph describes himself as a man with virtually no belief in "miracles or the otherworldly", yet experiences a deep, life altering sense of spirituality on his physically punishing trek. Simultaneously a travel guide, with practical information and sensible advice, a brief history of Santiago and the medieval religious psyche, and an insightful, first hand memoir evoking the texture and trials of the place and the journey. The photos in the second half of the book do much to bring Rudolph's eloquent words to life. I don't keep all of the books I read in my home library, but this one has found a permanent spot.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One of the top three books to get pre-Camino walking 3 Nov. 2012
By Julie Curtis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My husband and I walked 1,700km of the Santiago de Compostela trail, from Le Puy, France to Finisterre, Spain during the summer of 2011. It took us 2 1/2 months, averaging 25 km (often 28km) per day. I read a lot of books before we left. Loved, loved, loved this one. It is practical AND well-written and will be an asset to your Camino library. This summer we hiked the two week Rocamadour deviation of the Camino. This was the only book I reread as a "refresher" before we left.
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