travelswithherodotusFor me, travel always involves a good read on the country or place I’m going to. Historic or period-piece novels do it best, opening the door to the complexities  that someone else had gone to the trouble of deciphering and integrating into a image-rich look at a different time and place. Here are some recommends if you’re on the road that will help bring another world to life. There are an abundance of good fictionalized histories by author’s who have an understanding that make a read well worth the time.

Hawaii

Hawaii  by  James Michener

 

James Michener, dismissed by some, is indeed the perfect history storyteller.. He’s a very quick take and gets the basics all right, painting plausible pictures of the chiefs, sea captains, missionaries and others that tell Hawaii’s compelling history.

 

Ka`a`awa by  O.A. Bushnell

As a respected professor of Hawaiian history at the University of Hawaii, Bushnell paints a vivid look back at 19th century Hawaii when the ways of old are in final decline, and economic, political, and social changes are transforming the islands. This book, published by the University of Hawaii Press is out of print, but local you can find inexpensive copies on Amazon.

 

France

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine; Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe; The Last Great Dance on Earth    by Sandra Gulland

This trilogy covers the life of Jospehine, wife to Napoleon, told against the backdrop of the old regime and the revolutionary upheaval and political maneuvering that marked Napoleon’s rise to power with Jospehine at his side.

 

Abundance: Marie Antoinette   by Sena Jeter Naslund

Austrian Grand Duchess and ill-fated wife of Louis XVI of France, Marie Antoinette is an impressionable teenager when she is forced to leave Vienna for the French court. She arrives in France when the absolutism of monarchs is about to be challenged by revolution. She comes to life less willful than a victim of historic circumstances that neither her husband nor her Hapsburg family could shelter her from.  This lively book is rich in the physical and emotional account of her life, loves, and tragic fall from grace.

 

 

                                             Egypt

The Alexandria Quartet: Justine, Clea, Mountolive & Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell

         The ultimate in enigmatic story telling, with fact and fiction impossible to determine without room for doubt. This is a four part story that focuses largely on Justine, life, loves and identity are forever undergoing change as the books make their way through colonial Egypt that brings back Alexandria and Egypt during the heyday of imperial privilege and the ways privilege impacted the lives of an interconnected characters.

 

The Ancient World

                          

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

         Brought to Rome after Cleopatra’s suicide, her daughter and son are hosted by the Emperor Augustus in a story that winds these two ancient cultures into a single story of love, danger and dreams passed from one generation to the next, 

 

Anything by Mary Renault: Renowned for her historic novels back in the 50s and 60s, her books remain time machines back to the days of ancient Greece and Persia. The Persian Boy is actually Alexander the Great’s lover, but the story goes far deeper than their ill-fated homosexual friendship, enlivened by the picture Renault paints of times where all history is somewhat fictionalized. Fire From Heaven (another bout with Alexander, this time as a youth), The Mask of Apollo and The Last of the Wine ((both about classic Greece), and The Bull From the Sea (about the Minoan civilization of Crete) are all great reads.

 

Travels With Herodotus by Ryszard Kupscinski

         A journalist with a unique perspective and a unique way telling a story that is at once travelogue that crosses borders of place and time, linking the unlikeliest of places and ideas. His early travels as a correspondent for a Warsaw newspaper when the Iron Curtain hung heavy, isolating its people and unexpectedly pushing Kapuscinski into decidedly new territory.

 

 

 

 Burma    

The Glass Palace  by Amitosh Ghost

A wonderful multi-generational tale of Burma and India with sharp philosophical insights and a broad-stroke look at Burma’s uncertain identity as a result of British colonialism and Indian migrations. And where they led.

 

Israel

 

A Tale of Love & Darkness  by Amos Oz

         The multigenerational story of a complex east European family whose Zionist beliefs are fulfilled and then taken over by the realities or violence, war, and a family plagued by intensity that is highly idiosyncratic and uncompromising.  The book is long, but the messages it projects are powerfully telling of Israel’s passage to nationhood. 

 

Iceland

 The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz

         Written decades after the fact by a priest who accompanied Cortes, this documentation of the Spaniards in the New World is a brutal telling a racial and religious intolerance, deceit and cruelty under the guise of salvation. A cruel indictment of the horrors of colonialism that paints a picture of a world lost to conquest and destruction of both the physical and spiritual foundation of a civilization that was at once cruel in its own expression of power,

Independent People by Halldor Laxnessc

 

Laxness is a master of that brooding, melancholic reality of Scandinavia. This story of a harsh life and of dreams that are dying to be fulfilled creates characters that are strong yet broken by the demands of a climate and land that demands self-reliance and resiliency and imprints a harsh regimen on its people.

 

Holocaust

 

The Last of the Just   Andre Schwartzbart

         The story begins millennia ago and traces the progress of a single family through centuries filled with blessings and the challenge of survival leading to the death camps. The story is fascinating and the outcome no less impacting for its inevitability.

 

 

World War II

 

A Mind in Prison by  Bruno Manz 

         This transformative look at an indoctrinated youth and his transit from the brutal idealism of Nazi Germany and its power to subvert conventional morality that ultimate overrides the insidious nature of Nazi beliefs. A very moving story of personal responsibility against totalitarian truths that deny the value or integrity of the individual

 

One Final Day by Matsuo Fuchida

         A fascinating look at Japan’s pursuit of military goals by the pilot who led that warplane attacks at Pearl Harbor, Midway and elsewhere in the war in the Pacific. The account is straightforward, and reported without apology, but with a clear understanding that Japan’s militarist adventures were hampered by incompetence and a failed sense of what was possible. 

 

 

Poland,

 

The Zookeeper’s Wife  by  Diane Ackerman

         Poland is under Nazi occupation. Life is tough. Warsaw’s great Zoo is at risk, as are the lives of the zookeeper and his family, who use the nearly abandoned zoo as a way station for Jews escaping from the ghetto. To read this book and then visit the resistance museum in Warsaw is to sense the misery the Germans inflicted on Poland.

 

 

Turkey

         Birds Without Wings, by Louis De Bernieres

         A swagger through the life of people caught up in the turmoil-filled end of the Turkish Empire. The characters fight the good battle that renders them helpless to avoid the consequences of Turkey’s decline and the sacrifices life demands.

 

Japan

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

         Life through the eyes of a tradition that demands total surrender and a reveals the strengths of a powerful hierarchy of women.

 

 

 

        

CHINA

 

The Binding Char by Kathryn Harrison

         The story of an orphan girls escape from the toil of rural China to the mad and maddening intensity of Shanghai where a second life unfolds as two women seek safety and independence, as their struggle to establish themselves against privilege and the odds.

        

 SourceURL:file:///Users/allan/Desktop/HR%20EDITORIAL/Travelng%20w%20History.doc

Traveling With History

 

 

For me, travel always involves a good read on the country or place I’m going to. Historic or period-piece novels do it best, opening the door to the complexities of place and time that someone else had gone to the trouble of deciphering and integrating into a image=rich look at a different time and place. Here are some recommends if you’re on the road and to appreciate the context of where you’re headed. There are an abundance of good fictionalized histories by author’s who have an understanding worth the time.

 

Hawaii

Hawaii  by  James Michener

 

James Michener, dismissed by some, is indeed the perfect history storyteller.. He’s a very quick take and gets the basics all right, painting plausible pictures of the chiefs, sea captains, missionaries and others that tell Hawaii’s compelling history.

 

Ka`a`awa by  O.A. Bushnell

As a respected professor of Hawaiian history at the University of Hawaii, Bushnell paints a vivid look back at 19th century Hawaii when the ways of old are in final decline, and economic, political, and social changes are transforming the islands. This book, published by the University of Hawaii Press is out of print, but local you can find inexpensive copies on Amazon.

 

France

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine; Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe; The Last Great Dance on Earth    by Sandra Gulland

This trilogy covers the life of Jospehine, wife to Napoleon, told against the backdrop of the old regime and the revolutionary upheaval and political maneuvering that marked Napoleon’s rise to power with Jospehine at his side.

 

Abundance: Marie Antoinette   by Sena Jeter Naslund

Austrian Grand Duchess and ill-fated wife of Louis XVI of France, Marie Antoinette is an impressionable teenager when she is forced to leave Vienna for the French court. She arrives in France when the absolutism of monarchs is about to be challenged by revolution. She comes to life less willful than a victim of historic circumstances that neither her husband nor her Hapsburg family could shelter her from.  This lively book is rich in the physical and emotional account of her life, loves, and tragic fall from grace.

 

 

                                             Egypt

The Alexandria Quartet: Justine, Clea, Mountolive & Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell

         The ultimate in enigmatic story telling, with fact and fiction impossible to determine without room for doubt. This is a four part story that focuses largely on Justine, life, loves and identity are forever undergoing change as the books make their way through colonial Egypt that brings back Alexandria and Egypt during the heyday of imperial privilege and the ways privilege impacted the lives of an interconnected characters.

 

The Ancient World

                          

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

         Brought to Rome after Cleopatra’s suicide, her daughter and son are hosted by the Emperor Augustus in a story that winds these two ancient cultures into a single story of love, danger and dreams passed from one generation to the next, 

 

Anything by Mary Renault: Renowned for her historic novels back in the 50s and 60s, her books remain time machines back to the days of ancient Greece and Persia. The Persian Boy is actually Alexander the Great’s lover, but the story goes far deeper than their ill-fated homosexual friendship, enlivened by the picture Renault paints of times where all history is somewhat fictionalized. Fire From Heaven (another bout with Alexander, this time as a youth), The Mask of Apollo and The Last of the Wine ((both about classic Greece), and The Bull From the Sea (about the Minoan civilization of Crete) are all great reads.

 

Travels With Herodotus by Ryszard Kupscinski

         A journalist with a unique perspective and a unique way telling a story that is at once travelogue that crosses borders of place and time, linking the unlikeliest of places and ideas. His early travels as a correspondent for a Warsaw newspaper when the Iron Curtain hung heavy, isolating its people and unexpectedly pushing Kapuscinski into decidedly new territory.

 

 

 

 Burma    

The Glass Palace  by Amitosh Ghost

A wonderful multi-generational tale of Burma and India with sharp philosophical insights and a broad-stroke look at Burma’s uncertain identity as a result of British colonialism and Indian migrations. And where they led.

 

Israel

 

A Tale of Love & Darkness  by Amos Oz

         The multigenerational story of a complex east European family whose Zionist beliefs are fulfilled and then taken over by the realities or violence, war, and a family plagued by intensity that is highly idiosyncratic and uncompromising.  The book is long, but the messages it projects are powerfully telling of Israel’s passage to nationhood. 

 

Iceland

 The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz

         Written decades after the fact by a priest who accompanied Cortes, this documentation of the Spaniards in the New World is a brutal telling a racial and religious intolerance, deceit and cruelty under the guise of salvation. A cruel indictment of the horrors of colonialism that paints a picture of a world lost to conquest and destruction of both the physical and spiritual foundation of a civilization that was at once cruel in its own expression of power,

Independent People by Halldor Laxnessc

 

Laxness is a master of that brooding, melancholic reality of Scandinavia. This story of a harsh life and of dreams that are dying to be fulfilled creates characters that are strong yet broken by the demands of a climate and land that demands self-reliance and resiliency and imprints a harsh regimen on its people.

 

Holocaust

 

The Last of the Just   Andre Schwartzbart

         The story begins millennia ago and traces the progress of a single family through centuries filled with blessings and the challenge of survival leading to the death camps. The story is fascinating and the outcome no less impacting for its inevitability.

 

 

World War II

 

A Mind in Prison by  Bruno Manz 

         This transformative look at an indoctrinated youth and his transit from the brutal idealism of Nazi Germany and its power to subvert conventional morality that ultimate overrides the insidious nature of Nazi beliefs. A very moving story of personal responsibility against totalitarian truths that deny the value or integrity of the individual

 

One Final Day by Matsuo Fuchida

         A fascinating look at Japan’s pursuit of military goals by the pilot who led that warplane attacks at Pearl Harbor, Midway and elsewhere in the war in the Pacific. The account is straightforward, and reported without apology, but with a clear understanding that Japan’s militarist adventures were hampered by incompetence and a failed sense of what was possible. 

 

 

Poland,

 

The Zookeeper’s Wife  by  Diane Ackerman

         Poland is under Nazi occupation. Life is tough. Warsaw’s great Zoo is at risk, as are the lives of the zookeeper and his family, who use the nearly abandoned zoo as a way station for Jews escaping from the ghetto. To read this book and then visit the resistance museum in Warsaw is to sense the misery the Germans inflicted on Poland.

 

 

Turkey

         Birds Without Wings, by Louis De Bernieres

         A swagger through the life of people caught up in the turmoil-filled end of the Turkish Empire. The characters fight the good battle that renders them helpless to avoid the consequences of Turkey’s decline and the sacrifices life demands.

 

Japan

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

         Life through the eyes of a tradition that demands total surrender and a reveals the strengths of a powerful hierarchy of women.

 

 

 

        

CHINA

 

The Binding Char by Kathryn Harrison

         The story of an orphan girls escape from the toil of rural China to the mad and maddening intensity of Shanghai where a second life unfolds as two women seek safety and independence, as their struggle to establish themselves against privilege and the odds.

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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