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on 9 March 2007
In contrast to the numerous modern travel books which seem to focus on the 'personality' of the writer or trivial observations, this is an epic in every sense of the word. The scale of the journey is immense in distance and time, IB stayed to work as a Qadi (judge)in several places along the way, this means that you really get a deep sense of the politics and the people in each destination. This depth is unlike some of the more superficial accounts of present books which rely on novelty and humour. Although travels is not without humour itself.

I like travelling and read travel books frequently, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed the descriptions of distant lands and strange customs, however, the biggest surprise for me was the journey into the Islamic culture and lifestyle. I think it's the first account I have read from an Islamic perspective, and a Medieval one at that. With this in mind I think this is a perfect book to open the mind about other cultures and other ways of seeing the world. To get the most from this journey it is important to read 'Travels with a Tangerine' and 'Hall of a Thousand Columns' By Mackintosh-Smith.

I hope this reworked classic inspires other translators and archivists to unearth other works from centuries gone. On a final note I am deeply envious of anyone who understands Arabic as they can read the original.
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on 27 August 2008
Ibn Battuta was a medieval Islamic traveller from modern day Morocco, which at the time was a great centre of culture and learning. He was a Qadi (judge) and minor scholar who travelled, lived and worked in large swathes of the ancient world ranging from China, India, Ceylon, Sub Saharan Africa, and the Middle East! A feat one wonders if ever has been repeated.

The book is an autobiography written in the first person that details and describes his extensive travels in the form of a dictated journal.

The book gives an incite to the Islamic culture, customs and habits, as well as his perceptions and prejudices (from his prospective as a Medieval Muslim). It delves into some of his interactions and private thoughts he had with other cultures, ranging from Christendom, to China, and all the different Muslim regions such as the Mughals, or even the Muslim Sultans of Ceylon.

I found that it opened up my eyes to the world, and to metaphorically see, and walk through other peoples shoes, whom although long gone come to life as the book touches on the political, as well as the social and cultural habits of the time.

Well worth the read, if you have any interest in travel, history or other cultures. An interesting contrast to Marco Polo.
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on 15 January 2013
The difference in Islam and the Middle East today and during the travellers time are apparent after reading this book, Battutah describes the philanthropy of all Middle Eastern governors and those in elite positions and their care and concern for those less fortunate. You gain a deep insight of a people and their culture, dress, food, and so on. Ibn Battutah also relates several interesting anecdotes of main figures in the book, these parts were the ones I found most interesting and made the book worthwile. As one other critic described, the book is a tad repetitive and does begin to bore you towards the end, nontheless, it is still worth a read, especially if you are a Muslim and would like to understand the differences in the Middle East today and then. Lost in translation? Most definitely not, Tim Mackintosh-Smith makes an exceptional effort in translating Battutah's original work and although I have not read the original Arabic works myself I confidently commend the Authors efforts.
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on 30 November 2013
Feeling nervous on the eve of a 14-hour flight to Delhi, with mobile phone and insurance, it is difficult to imagine the state of mind of a man leaving his home in Morocco for for 29 years of wandering. It is these that this abridged version of the "Rihla" provides. The world he roams was not entirely Islamic, but his fith, though perhaps the prism through which he saw and judged, was also his "meal ticket", and a not very profound grasp of Islamic jurisprudence seemed to gain him positions of power and influence wherever he went. Where he went was along the North African Coast to Egypt, thence to Asia Minor, the Mecca for the hadj, then along the Persion/Arab gulf, spending a lot of time in India, particularly at the court of Delhi, with forays into ceylon/Sri Lank, the Maldives, North India/Assam China, whence he returned to his native Morocco, before making a final trip into "black" (Sub-Saharan) Africa.

Among other things, this is a book about the generosity of Princes, for at each juncture, he was offered clothes and accommodation that enabled him to maintain his position and status.

There were at the time, two competing world visions, that of Europe and the Islamic world. However vast Europe may feel now, the late mediaeval Islamic world offered a more coherent space, and despite the limitations religion placed on cultural relativism, possibly a more open one.
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on 5 June 2014
This abridgment of a superb translation of one of the pearls of travel literature is wisely and wittily editted by a brilliant contemporary Arabist. Don't skip his footnotes. It is fascinating to observe the niceties of Arabic expression shining through the translation.
It is amusing to observe that the cover picture was pinched from another jewel of medieval Arabic writing: 'The Maqamah' of Al-Hariri.
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on 14 February 2004
The story told is based on his own true experience and worth reading. He is so honest when relaying his experiences and really open my eyes to other cultures and life that ever exist in the world. I envy his brave and courage to travel and learn about lots of things from it. Once reading his book, you can't put it down. You can even laugh and cry with him. He is so brave to with the cannibals and his story about his experience in his pilgrimage (Hajj) in Mecca, was so great that I can't find an exact word to describe it... he make us who has been there too, miss the place and want to go there again.
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on 28 February 2012
If you are not a history buff, this abridged version with very useful footnotes will give you sense of life in the early 14th century.
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on 6 January 2013
Very well written with appropriate foot notes where required. Having compared to other similar books in other languages I find that it is quite similar representation of the original text. However the selection of material is up to the editor of the book and some items are selectively ignored.
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on 20 December 2013
The book arrived two days earlier than expected; which was great.

Ibn battutah describes each place in great detail and you feel as though are in his shoes.Tim Mackintosh- Smith has done a great job with this book especially with the notes section at the back that explains a lot of things even further.

I would recommend his book to anyone who has a passion for travelling, history as well learning other peoples culture/customs.
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on 19 August 2013
The book arrived in perfect condition, which is always a nice surprise. The footnotes and general layout of the book make it simple to follow even (like Ibn himself) strange sounding and foreign territory. My only complaint is that the map for his travels spans two pages and thus it's difficult to see the location of alot of the Middle eastern destinations. But that is a minor complaint at best.
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