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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2011
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.) Dunn does an admirable job at this task, with excellent epigraphs from Ibn Khaldun, and others, adequate footnotes, black and white photos, and some excellent maps which define his "definite" travels, as well as his "maybes". Of the many problems with Ibn Khaldun's account is the absence of the daily life of the common man, and the exclusive attention the elites of society receive. Overall, Dunn creates a workable synthesis of the actual facts from the Rihla coupled with a factual account of the background of the Islamic High Middle Ages.

The main advantage to the Western reader in tackling this book... and that is an apt approach... is to reflect on an entirely different world view that does not have an axis that runs through Greece and Rome. And that is more important today than when Ibn Khaldun undertook his journey. Overall though, for a feel of this area, at least during a similar period, I much preferred In an Antique Land. Both Professor Dunn and Ibn Khaldun deserve 5-stars for their efforts and achievements, but the finished product of the Ribla merits a lonely one, at least from one sitting in a Western "just the straight facts" perspective, and so I'll average out the book at 3-stars.

(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on July 07, 2010)
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on 13 January 1999
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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on 28 December 1998
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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on 19 August 1998
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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on 14 November 1998
Ibn Battuta may have been the single greatest traveler of premodern times. In this book, Dunn is able to not only illustrate the qualities of Battuta, but also the complex intricacies of the inertcommunicating zone of the Islamic empire. It also effectively highlites the threads and interwoven cultural changes that are superceded by the Islamic faith, which allowed a traveler such as Battuta to accomplish his great feats. This may be the most detailed and creatively displayed work in existence which describes the 13th century Islamic world, and is a synoptic introduction to the post-Crusade period.
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on 18 May 2015
An excellent book that helps one to get some idea of what the geopolitical and social situation were like at the time.
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on 23 January 2009
An excellent book by Ross E Dunn with vivid, clearly researched and referenced account of Ibn Battuta's travels adventures and escapades through some of the dangerous regions from his home (Morocco) to China and back. It also provides a good framework of what is known of the political religious and cultural background of the Islamic world during the fourteenth century. The journey of life-a-time for most Muslims is the Hajj (pilgrimage) as the fifth pillar of Islam - once in our life-time as was the reason/pre-text for Ibn Battuta's journey in 1325 & which ended in 1354 with a total of 73,000 miles (29 years later)!

I can easily relate to this journey as I had also travelled on a journey-of-a-life time in 1985 with a team of eight other individuals, all of us were Muslim(s) and who went on a gruelling overland trek totalling 15,860 miles to research our "Roots". Travelling through countries such as Belgium, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Kashmir and included the 7,930 miles return journey to Britain (UK). By modern day standards our journey of almost 16,000 miles was completed within three months and in the fourteenth century it may have taken Ibn Battuta 3-5 years to complete!

However, travelling long distances across world's regions is risky as you can get caught up in wars, conflicts, banditry and other perils of bad weather and mishaps - still applies to modern day travelling (as it happened in 1985 & I came back in one piece to tell the tale and so did Ibn Battuta!). Places like Anatolia/Persia (now Turkey/Iran), India (now India/Pakistan) and Kashmir with familiar names of cities like Erzurum, Sivas, Erzincan, Tabriz, Multan and Delhi are still in existence today & when Ibn Battuta visited them.
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on 24 February 1998
This book is the travel accounts of Ibn Battuta a Moroccan traveler from 14th. century A.D. who traveled from Morocco to China bassing by North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Iran, Byzantine empire, South East Asia(During his travel he was appointed as a supreme judge in Delhy(India) and in Maldive islands(His journey lasted for more than 20 years). He also visited Spain, and West Africa. At the end he went back to Morocco and dictated his travel accounts to the script of the Sultan Anan al-Marini of Morocco.
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