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The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century [Paperback]

Ross E Dunn
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Dec 2004
Known as the greatest traveler of premodern times, Abu Abdallah ibn Battuta was born in Morocco in 1304 and educated in Islamic law. At the age of twenty-one, he left home to make the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. This was only the first of a series of extraordinary journeys that spanned nearly three decades and took him not only eastward to India and China but also north to the Volga River valley and south to Tanzania. The narrative of these travels has been known to specialists in Islamic and medieval history for years. Ross E. Dunn's 1986 retelling of these tales, however, was the first work of scholarship to make the legendary traveler's story accessible to a general audience. Now updated with revisions, a new preface, and an updated bibliography, Dunn's classic interprets Ibn Battuta's adventures and places them within the rich, trans-hemispheric cultural setting of medieval Islam.

Product details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Revised edition edition (3 Dec 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520243854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520243859
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 16.1 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 851,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"It is not surprising that this book was required reading."--Pragati: the Indian National Interest Review

About the Author

Ross E. Dunn is Professor of History, San Diego State University, and the editor of The New World History: A Teacher's Companion (2000).

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First Sentence
The white and windy city of Tangier lies on the coast of Morocco at the southwestern end of the Strait of Gibraltar where the cold surface current of the Atlantic flows into the channel, forming a river to the Mediterranean 45 miles away. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Long Haj... 28 Mar 2011
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
Ibn Battuta set off for the Haj in 1325, and it took him almost a quarter century before he returned to his homeland (hum, I know the experience). Of course, Ibn Battuta did far more than the Haj; he traveled in virtually all of the Islamic world at the time, starting from Tangiers, going as far as China, with side-trips to southern Russia, southern modern-day Tanzania, central Asia, and he even did a stint as a judge in India, working for a despot who really would hire foreigners, since they are easier to control. (hum, again.) It really was a world-class achievement, and Ibn Battuta far exceeded the travels of the person he is most frequently compared with: Marco Polo. Once Ibn Battuta got in motion, the joys of the road, the obsession to see what was around the next bend, simply possess him as it has few other human beings. Once he returned home after the quarter century, he must have felt "the moss growing" on his stone, so he set off on a multi-year tour of north-west Africa.

The problem though is the record he left of his travels. Since he did not have the literary skills, his travels were told to Ibn Juzayy, who weaved his own story replete with dollops of pandering to the elites of the time. And there was a large "stream of consciousness" to his tale, which might be great for a novel, but the inaccuracies of time and place invalidate much of the useful knowledge that could have been obtained. That account is called the "Rihla." Enter Professor Ross E. Dunn, who is fascinated by Ibn Battuta's achievement, and tries to make the best of "a bad hand" so that this story might be available for the general reader (as well as many a specialist.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even more interesting than Marco Polo's Travels 13 Jan 1999
By A Customer
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even more than reading Marco Polo. Battuta logged over 70,000 miles, some of it through dangerous regions, and as far as from Morocco to China and back. Travel that far was an astonishing feat for that period. It offers very interesting insights into the Muslim world of the 14th century. The author also attempts to paint a realistic picture of Battuta as a man of his times. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Battuta's pilgrimage to Mecca and his experiences in India. One thing I think some Western readers might also gain from this book is a greater appreciation and understanding of the Muslim world in general and the Arab world in particular.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is a very detailed and well written account of the travels, very well researched and referenced. It gives a sketch of what is known of the political religious and cultural background of all the lands Ibn Battuta travelled through from the times of the travels and makes a very cogent attempt to sort out the sequence. It has good maps. It gives a vivid picture of the people and the times. My only disappointment is the limited number of quotations from the Rihla. If you are backpacking anywhere between Nigeria and Mongolia this book will earn you lots of free meals and good contacts. Anyone got a modern tranlation of the Rihla (cheap) please?
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Excellent research by the author. My compliments. I learned a lot on the issues of those days. The events described in Ibn Battuta's My Rihla are carefully compared and analyzed with other documents from that time. I learned a lot about the man Ibn Battuta, and I must say I was a bit disappointed. He was not really a very nice man. The author shows why Ibn Battuta did the things he did. One thing is for sure: Ibn Battuta was a great traveller.
If you are interested in Ibn Battuta, or the time he lived in then this is a must read.
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