Soundscapes and Literary Greats – Recent Travel Books

This month, discover Paris and London in very different ways. Janice MacLeod’s A Paris Year is a love letter to Paris (in illustrations and words) through the eyes of an artist. On the flip side, Streets of London : the story behind London’s most famous streets takes a layered approach, uncovering some of London’s fascinating back doubles and alleyways, often passed by and ignored.

In a month of contrasts and different approaches, we also feature two books about Antarctica.  Philip Samartzis, author of  Antarctica: An Absent Presence, travelled south with the Australian Antarctic Division on several occasions and his recordings of the unique sounds of Antarctica have been used to create soundscape compositions which wrap around the words and images in this book. The flip side here is a personal narrative leading towards the icy continent from rural America, in Andrew Evans’s The Black Penguin.

Finally we have a literary bent, with the collection of New York Times columns in Footprints examining the locations that influenced famous writers, and The Writer Abroad featuring the actual travel writing of some of the greats.

Antarctica : an absent presence / Philip Samartzis.
“This beautiful volume of soundscape compositions, images and words from Philip Samartzis is an invitation to share in a remarkable journey of enquiry. Antarctica is a paradox of the sublime and prosaic: with its vast expanses of ice, snow and mountains and traces of human habitation, from weathered huts to abandoned machinery. Samartzis travelled south with the Australian Antarctic Division on several occasions and his recordings of the unique sounds of Antarctica have been used to create soundscape compositions which are meticulously realised on three CDs of the music included in this book.” (Fishpond.co.nz)

Syndetics book coverA Paris year : my day-to-day adventures in the most romantic city in the world / Janice MacLeod.
“Part memoir and part visual journey, A Paris Year chronicles, day by day, one woman’s French sojourn in the world’s most beautiful city. Beginning on her first day in Paris, Janice MacLeod began a journal recording in illustrations and words, nearly every sight, smell, taste, and thought she experienced in the City of Light. The end result is more than a diary: it’s a detailed and colorful love letter to one of the most romantic and historically rich cities on earth. Combining personal observations and anecdotes with stories and facts about famous figures in Parisian history, this visual tale of discovery, through the eyes of an artist, is sure to delight, inspire, and charm.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe black penguin / Andrew Evans.
“A devout young boy in rural Ohio, Andrew Evans had his life mapped for him: baptism, mission, Brigham Young University, temple marriage, and children of his own. But as an awkward gay kid, bullied and bored, he escaped into the glossy pages of National Geographic and the wide promise of the world atlas. Ejected from church and shunned by his family as a young man, Evans embarks on an ambitious overland journey halfway across the world. Riding public transportation, he crosses swamps, deserts, mountains, and jungles, slowly approaching his lifelong dream and ultimate goal: Antarctica. Evans’s 12,000-mile voyage becomes a soulful quest to balance faith, family, and self, reminding us that, in the end, our lives are defined by the roads we take, the places we touch, and those we hold nearest.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStreets of London : the story behind London’s most famous streets / Lucy McMurdo.
“With a history going back 2000 years it is hardly surprising that so many of London’s streets are known throughout the globe. Even today several Roman roads pass through the capital, and London’s financial center, The City of London, is full of winding alleys and ancient ways with names from times gone by. Author Lucy McMurdo encourages you to turn off the main trail and discover more of London’s fascinating back doubles and alleyways, so often passed by and ignored.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTourist trains guidebook / [from the publishers of Trains magazine ; editor: Randy Rehberg].
Tourist Trains Guidebook, Sixth Edition describes 500 of the most popular train attractions, museums, and railroad vacation destinations in the U.S. and Canada. A unique travel guide that appeals to train buffs, individuals interested in historic trains and sites, and families looking for kid-friendly vacations. The digest book size offers a portable format that fits inside a backpack or tote. As passenger train travel enjoys a real renaissance today, a comprehensive railroad travel guide will be a valuable addition to your product line.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFootsteps : from Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco : literary pilgrimages around the world / The New York Times ; introduction by Monica Drake.
“Based on the popular New York Times travel column, Footsteps is an anthology of literary pilgrimages, exploring the geographic muses behind some of history’s greatest writers. From the “dangerous, dirty and seductive” streets of Naples, the setting for Elena Ferrante’s famous Neapolitan novels, to the “stone arches, creaky oaken doors, and riverside paths” of Oxford, the backdrop for Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, Footsteps takes a fresh approach to literary tourism, appealing to readers and travel enthusiasts alike.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe writer abroad : literary travels from Austria to Uzbekistan / selected by Lucinda Hawksley.
“From the grand tour to the global village, novelists and poets have made particularly observant travelers. Many writers have been prone to wanderlust, eager to explore the world and draw inspiration from their travels. They recorded their notes in letters, journals, essays and books. This collection takes us on a literary journey around the world, through extracts from Arthur Conan Doyle in Australia, Aldous Huxley in India, Charles Dickens in Italy, Henry James in France, Mary Wollstonecraft in Sweden, and many more.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWays to see Great Britain : curious places & surprising perspectives / text and illustrations by Alice Stevenson.
“Driven by curiosity, restlessness and a desire to better understand her own country, artist Alice Stevenson spent two years exploring and drawing Great Britain. With an eye for the odd and an antenna for the unexpectedly beautiful, she documented her slow, attentive forays. The result is a book celebrating detail, of landscape and architecture, and creativity, an essential human urge. A rich, artistic journey through a land deep in natural and man-made puzzles and wonders.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Revisions and Revisitations – Recent History picks for June

This month’s selections contain a few updated histories, including Andrew Marr’s A History of Modern Britain now covering the Brexit vote and aftermath, and a new version of Jeff Evans’ Polynesian Navigation and the Discovery of New Zealand. Old and new conflicts also go under the microscope, with World War II revisited from several perspectives, while Michael Zacchea’s The Ragged Edge looks at the rebuilding of Iraq’s armed forces and the insurgency that would later develop into ISIS.

Syndetics book coverAgent 110 / Scott Miller.
“In November 1942, American spymaster Allen Dulles slipped into Switzerland. His mission: to report on the inner workings of the Third Reich. Code-named Agent 110 by the OSS, he discovered a network of Germans conspiring to overthrow Hitler. Aided by his mistress, an American journalist, Dulles built a network of secret agents and became convinced that Moscow aimed to dominate postwar Europe. He desperately sought Washington’s support in Operation Valkyrie, and worked with a ruthless Nazi SS general to secure the surrender of all German forces in Italy. Dulles himself would eventually lead the CIA during the Cold War, driven by his wartime distrust of the Soviets.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPolynesian navigation and the discovery of New Zealand / Jeff Evans ; foreword by Francis Cowan.
Polynesian navigation and the discovery of New Zealand offers a straightforward account of how and why Polynesian seafarers made their journey south to New Zealand shores. The first part discusses the origins of the voyages, legends of the homeland and the explorer Kupe, traditional Polynesian navigation techniques, and the preservation of seafaring knowledge by Māori. The second part presents a gripping account of the canoe Hawaiki-nui retracing the route from Tahiti to New Zealand in 1985 using traditional voyaging methods.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Nazis : the hidden history, the catastrophic impact of the Third Reich / Jonathan J. Moore.
“Historian and writer Jonathan J. Moore examines the horrific nature of the Nazi regime in all its gruesome detail. He draws on the latest research to answer many of the unanswered questions about the Nazi state and provides many fascinating and original insights into the period.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverShoot like a girl : one woman’s dramatic fight in Afghanistan and on the home front / Mary Jennings Hegar.
“In 2009, Air National Guard major Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar was shot down in Afghanistan. Despite being wounded, she fought the enemy and saved the lives of her crew and their patients. But it was on American soil that Hegar would embark on her greatest challenge – to eliminate the military’s Ground Combat Exclusion Policy, which kept female armed service members from officially serving in combat roles. MJ takes the reader on a dramatic journey through her military career: a true story of a brave, high-spirited, and unforgettable woman who has spent much of her life ready to sacrifice everything for her country, her fellow man, and her sense of justice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe ragged edge : a US Marine’s account of leading the Iraqi Army Fifth Battalion / Michael Zacchea and Ted Kemp.
“Deployed to Iraq in March 2004 after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, US Marine Michael Zacchea thought he had landed a plum assignment. His team’s mission was to build, train, and lead in combat the first Iraqi Army battalion trained by the US military. He had little time to transform his troops into a cohesive rifle battalion that would fight a new insurgency erupting across Iraq. In order to stand up a fighting battalion, he would have to understand his men. Unlike other Marines in Iraq, he immersed himself in Iraq’s culture: learning its languages, eating its foods, observing its traditions, even being inducted into one of its Sunni tribes. The Ragged Edge is Zacchea’s deeply personal and powerful account of hopeful determination, of brotherhood and betrayal, and of cultural ignorance and misunderstanding.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe war beat, Europe : the American media at war against Nazi Germany / Steven Casey.
“From the North African desert to the bloody stalemate in Italy, from the London blitz to the D-Day beaches, a group of highly courageous and extremely talented American journalists reported the war against Nazi Germany for a grateful audience. Based on a wealth of previously untapped primary sources, War Beat, Europe provides the first comprehensive account of what these reporters witnessed, what they were allowed to publish, and how their reports shaped the home front’s perception of some of the most pivotal battles in American history.” (Abridged from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverA history of modern Britain / Andrew Marr.
“This engaging volume tells the story of how the great political visions and idealisms of Victorian Britain came to be defeated by a culture of consumerism, celebrity, and self-gratification. It explains how in each decade, political leaders found themselves confounded by the British people, who always turned out to be harder to herd than predicted. Historically Britain has been a country on the edge—first of invasion, then of bankruptcy, then on the vulnerable front line of the Cold War, and later in the forefront of the great opening up of capital and migration.” (Abridged from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe history of the future : American essays / Edward McPherson.
“In The History of the Future, McPherson reexamines American places and the space between history, experience, and myth. Private streets, racism, and the St. Louis World’s Fair; fracking for oil and digging for dinosaurs in North Dakota boomtowns-Americana slides into apocalypse in these essays, revealing us to ourselves.” (Syndetics summary)