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Travels with a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah [Paperback]

Tim Mackintosh-Smith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jun 2002
'A gripping and accomplished travel book . . . [it] stands out for its integrity and intelligence' Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times Ibn Battutah was the greatest traveller of the pre-mechanical age, journeying for twenty nine years and covering three times the ground Marco Polo covered. Tim Mackintosh-Smith follows the first stage of Ibn Battutah's journey, from Tangier to Constantinople. Destinations include an Islamic Butlin's in the Egyptian desert, Assassin castles in Syria, the Kuria Maria Islands in the Arabian Sea and some of the greatest cities of Medeival Islam. He also cleverly compares the contemporary Muslim world with the past. 'Mackintosh-Smith slips effortlessly between our world and that of the fourteenth century. In doing so, he has created a gripping and accomplished travel book... We will be lucky if there is a better one published this year' Sunday Times 'An immensely engaging book...Subversive good humour without relentless jokiness; and a descriptive eye capable of sketching complext details in a few telling lines' Daily Telegraph

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (7 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330491148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330491143
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

The Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award is not handed out lightly, and is almost invariably given to travel writing of a rare order. Tim Mackintosh-Smith is a very worthy recipient, and Travels with a Tangerine will no doubt inspire (as did his earlier Yemen) comparisons to the giants of writing about the Arabic world, from Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom to Wilfred Thesiger.

Travels with a Tangerine is subtitled A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah, and finds Mackintosh-Smith utilising his impressive knowledge of Arabic studies in a fascinating journey to find the real Arabia. For the past 17 years (when not travelling), he has lived in the Yemeni capital San'a, and this invaluable background has made him the perfect guide to the exotic landscapes of Arabia. Here, the author travels in the footsteps of a ghost. Ibn Battutah was the greatest traveller of the pre-mechanical age, setting out in 1325 from his native Tangier on a pilgrimage to Mecca. His journey took 29 years, and he visited most of the known world, travelling three times the distance that Marco Polo covered. Mackintosh-Smith set out to write a "trailer" or continuation of the original writings, and this utterly fascinating book covers the first stage in the Moroccan's bizarre and dangerous journey (brigands were only one of the dangers he faced). The destinations include a quaint Islamic Butlin's in the Egyptian desert, the shores of the Cimmerian Bosphoros and some of the most impressive cities of medieval Islam. All the details of his journey are conjured up with maximum vividness, from buffalo milk puddings and fishbone houses to the legendary dancing dervishes. The writing, always spare and elegant, makes this a highly compelling read for either the adventurer or the armchair traveller. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Ibn Battutah set out in 1325 from his native Tangier on the pilgrimage to Mecca. By the time he returned 29 years later, he had visited most of the known world. This text follows his footsteps, exploring both the 14th century and its parallel landscape: the contemporary Muslim world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended. Delightful and enlightening. 9 July 2002
By Milady
A fantastic read, although I have to admit I didn't understand all the vocabulary. It brings the colourful, wide and pluralistic world of medieval Islam to life, replete with amazing characters. I enjoyed it so much that when I finished I went straight back to the beginning. Absolutely wonderful as an introduction to many historical characters (like al-Ma'arri), so I am using it as a starting point to learn more. It beautifully belies the traditional view we have of the medival Islamic arts and culture having been so straight-laced and peopled with paragons.I only wish he would carry on and go all the way to China!
Beautiful travel writing from a master of wry and sympathetic observation. I also heartily recommend 'Travels in Dictionary Land'.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but ... 21 April 2003
By A Customer
This is indeed a wonderful book, as others have written. However, I think it weakens towards the end, when the author leaves the Arabic-speaking world and travels to Turkey and the Crimea. Here Tim Mackintosh-Smith, as he himself admits, is on less familiar cultural and linguistic grounds. As a result there are fewer of the conversations, arguments and jokes with local people that give the 'Arabic' section of his travels such a feeling of immediacy and intimacy. I look forward to future travels with a Tangerine, but I also hope that Mackintosh-Smith will give us more about Arabs and their world.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY IT!!! 5 Aug 2002
By A Customer
An excellent and timely exploration of Islamic culture, heritage and humanity. This is a beautifully written book whose learning and erudition is lightly worn. I found its humorous and loving accounts of people, places and history very reminiscent of Patrick Leigh-Fermor's 'A Time of Gifts' and 'Between the Woods and the Water' - it shared that same wistfulness and yet is an exploration of a vibrant modern world embedded in a deep historical and religious context. A marvellous antidote to all those over-earnest journalistic pieces on Islamic fundamentalism.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Travel with a Tangerine 1 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is a very interesting and amusing. I wish somebody would translate it to Arabic. Tim Mackintosh very observent and understanding.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, scholarly and hugely entertaining 4 Mar 2002
This was a pleasure to read, from cover to cover. Tim Mackintosh-Smith packs every page with scholarly analysis, pithy observations on human nature and a clear sense of deep enjoyment of his journey (even in adversity). His Sana'a home must contain an extraordinary library; the entire book is peppered with insights from across the centuries. Perhaps the most vivid memory - TM-S sighing with contentment as he relaxes to await his next transport with all the true\desert-dweller needs for a happy life: shade, tobacco and cool water. A sage indeed. I can't recommend this too highly.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy!! 14 April 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read. Not just in terms of the fact that its very well written. It is funny, I had to put it down in the metro as people were starring at me as I was laughing so much, it's informative and it really does carry you along on the authors journey.

It has rekindled a desire to explore the arabic world described at the start of IBs journey as well.
A brilliant book, buy it!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
good book. A bit too heavy on a lot of trivial detail which slows the narrative. But well written and enjoyable
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tangerine grated 3 Mar 2009
This book is well-researched and well-written. In many ways, it is a very admirable achievement. What grates slightly is the author's rather pompous, superior and patronising tone when he encounters some of the people on his journey. Being more learned than the 'mere' tourists he encounters does not make him better than them. Yet, annoyingly, he says he 'bristles' when mistaken for one. There's also a somewhat unhealthy interest in toilet-related matters, a subject the author seems oddly drawn to.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet tangerine
Although I haven't had chance to read this book yet, my nephew has it and loves it. He rates it as a superb read. I look forward to having my book back!
Published on 17 April 2012 by Ms. D. M. Neale
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring stuff!
This is a wondrous piece of writing - I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates a well-turned phrase, whether or not you have any prior interest in Islam and its history. Read more
Published on 27 Jun 2011 by Erastus Rosemond
5.0 out of 5 stars An immensely engaging book...
Tim Mackintosh-Smith is an Englishman who is also an "Arabist," calling Sanaa, in the Yemen, home for over three decades. Read more
Published on 19 May 2011 by John P. Jones III
5.0 out of 5 stars a very interesting read
I really enjoyed this book. It is well written and full of fascinating encounters with people he meets on the way. Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2010 by Marc Jackson
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh No Thanks!
I'm not really a fan of history books. Actually, let me rephrase that - I'm not a fan of history that doesn't interest me. Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2010 by L. Cully
5.0 out of 5 stars travels with a tangerine
For a novice considering a writing career, I would urge you not to read this book. Why? Simple, because you will realise how inadequate you are and abandon your hopes. Read more
Published on 11 Feb 2010 by John Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars travels with a tangerine
got this for a friend to remind him of trips to turkey and he loved it
Published on 5 May 2009 by Mrs. C. E. Hill
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