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Tag: travel books (Page 1 of 32)

Personal Narrative of Travels – Volume 1

Personal Narrative of Travels - Volume 1 by Alexander von Humboldt

Personal Narrative of Travels – Volume 1 by Alexander von Humboldt

In 1799, with extensive travel permissions from the Spanish government, Alexander von Humboldt and the botanist Aimé Bonpland departed for the Americas on a journey of exploration that would last well into 1804. In writing the “Personal Narrative…”, von Humboldt combined a description of the places and people of their travels with diverse scientific observations; but particularly of plants and animals, geology, weather and astronomy. von Humboldt’s narrative (and Thomasina Ross’s translation) of their adventures is marvelously well written and at times poetically descriptive. Volume I of the “Personal Narrative….”, covers their preparations, departure from Spain, and their travels to the Canary Islands, Tobago, Cumana and vicinity, and Caracas and vicinity in Venezuela. Alexander von Humboldt was a member of the Prussian aristocracy. He was well educated and as a young man worked as an inspector of mines. After receiving an inheritance from his Mother, he was able to follow his desire to explore and follow scientific pursuits, and was sufficiently wealthy to equip and fund his scientific expeditions. Although not a household name today (unless you live in one of the 18 places named after him), von Humboldt was the best known naturalist of his day, and his published observations and interpretations have a very important place in the history of science. For example, he strongly influenced Charles Darwin. He aimed to find the universal principles that integrate all aspects of nature (the Unity of Nature) rather than to just describe and as such is considered to be the founder of biogeography; and he is recognized as being among the first to describe the effect of human activity on climate.

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The Story of My Boyhood and Youth

The Story of My Boyhood and Youth by John Muir

The Story of My Boyhood and Youth by John Muir

“The only fire for the whole house was the kitchen stove, with a fire box about eighteen inches long and eight inches wide and deep,- scant space for three or four small sticks, around which in hard zero weather all the family of ten shivered, and beneath which in the morning we found our socks and coarse, soggy boots frozen solid.” Thus, with perceptive eye for detail, the American naturalist, John Muir, describes life on a pioneer Wisconsin farm in the 1850’s. Muir was only eleven years old when his father uprooted the family from a relatively comfortable life in Dunbar, Scotland, to settle in the backwoods of North America.

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The History of London

The History of London by Sir Walter Besant

The History of London by Sir Walter Besant

Walter Besant was a novelist and historian, and his topographical and historical writings, ranging from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century, were probably best known through the detailed 10-volume Survey of London published after his death.

This earlier single volume covers, in less depth, the whole period from prehistory until the 19th century. The book appears originally to have been written for boys, and, indeed, the chapters are called “Lessons”. However, it is a very readable history and provides a fascinating insight into both London’s past and the government of the City at the time the book was written.

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From Sail to Steam

From Sail to Steam by Alfred Thayer Mahan

From Sail to Steam by Alfred Thayer Mahan

Alfred Thayer Mahan, American historian and author, whose The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783 became instrumental in the formation of naval strategy by many nations in the 20th century, here recounts his observations and experiences over forty years of active duty as a naval officer.

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The Life of Cicero, Vol. 1

The Life of Cicero, Vol. 1 by Anthony Trollope

The Life of Cicero, Vol. 1 by Anthony Trollope

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC) was an orator, statesman, philosopher and prolific correspondent, who rose as a ‘new man’ in Rome in the turbulent last years of its republican government. Anthony Trollope, best known as a novelist, admired Cicero greatly and wrote this biography late in life in order to argue his virtues against authors who had granted him literary greatness but questioned his strength as a politician and as a man. He takes a personal approach, affording us an insight into his own mind and times as well as those of his subject.

Volume I covers the period (up to the year 57BC) of Cicero’s education, his rise through the courts and offices of state to the Consulship, and his exile.

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The Making of a Nation: The Beginning of Israel’s History

The Making of a Nation: The Beginning of Israel's History by Charles Foster Kent

The Making of a Nation: The Beginning of Israel's History by Charles Foster Kent

Charles Foster Kent was one of the premier scholars in Jewish Studies. He was particularly well-known for his comparisons of early Christianity to its Jewish roots. He also wrote several distinguished histories of Israel, the Jewish people, Torah studies, and the development of oral Torah.

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The Three Cities Trilogy – Lourdes

The Three Cities Trilogy - Lourdes by Émile Zola

The Three Cities Trilogy – Lourdes by Émile Zola

This book describes a five day national pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Lourdes, where miracle cures are hoped for. The central character is a priest, Pierre, whose faith is faltering. He is accompanying his childhood sweetheart who has been stricken with paralysis and whose faith is strong. In the background of the great irony of this relationship, there are numerous sub-plots, some tragic, some whimsical, involving a large number of characters, set in the midst of organised chaos in the pilgrimage site. Through Pierre’s mental and spiritual experiences Zola explores the role of religious faith in a society coming to terms with science and reason.

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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, written in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano. It discusses his time spent in slavery, serving primarily on galleys, documents his attempts at becoming an independent man through his study of the Bible, and his eventual success in gaining his own freedom and in business thereafter. The book contains an interesting discussion of slavery in West Africa and illustrates how the experience differs from the dehumanizing slavery of the Americas. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano is also one of the first widely read slave narratives.

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The Story of Rolf and the Viking’s Bow

The Story of Rolf and the Viking's Bow by Allen French

The Story of Rolf and the Viking's Bow by Allen French

Rolf, a youth in early Christian Iceland, loses first his father, then his property, and finally his freedom to the schemes of a greedy neighbor. Outlawed from Iceland, Rolf travels abroad, meeting with shipwreck, enslavement, Viking berserkers, and many other dangers and adventures. All the while, Rolf searches for a way to prove his father was killed unjustly and win back his own property and freedom. Even more difficult, Rolf must end the cycle of enmity, vengeance, and pride that hangs like a curse over his family.

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