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Travels with a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah Paperback – 15 Mar 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848546750
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848546752
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.4 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

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 the Hardcover edition.


'A brilliant, erudite and entertaining literary coup' (Time)

'Battutah couldn't enjoy a better champion . . . This is a considerable book, mind-broadening, not only in the way that it revives the history of a remarkable traveller, but also for its representation of modern Islam as tolerant, hospitable, humorous and cultured' (The Times)

'Sometimes, as [Mackintosh-Smith] travels from Cairo to the Crimea, across deserts, into assassins' strongholds, it seems that Ibn Battutah is just a swish of a robe ahead' (Independent)

'A fluent Arabist who has lived in Yemen for the best part of two decades, Mackintosh-Smith is an accomplished etymologist who delights in his field of research and shares Ibn Battutah's roving intellectual curiosity, if not his boundless sexual appetite . . . Travels with a Tangerine has all the makings of a classic' (The Spectator)

'Mackintosh-Smith is an intrepid and determined traveller, with an uncanny instinct for right turnings and the necessary conviction to pursue them . . . Mixing archaic language . . . with a twenty-first-century sensibility, fogeyism with an appetite for fun, food and a good smoke, he slips effortlessly between our world and that of the fourteenth century. In so doing, he has created a gripping and accomplished travel book' (Sunday Times)

'With the Travels of IB (as he affectionately thinks of him) in hand, Mackintosh-Smith here follows his predecessor's trail as far as the Crimea, seeking what remains of the sights Battutah saw, skilfully evoking those that have vanished, all the while remaining alert to the deep connections between modern Muslim society and the past. The result is an immensely engaging book' (Daily Telegraph)

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