By Edward Chaney
Of all Italian cities, Florence has always had the strongest English accent: the Goncourt brothers in 1855 called it 'ville tout anglaise'. Though that accent is diminished now, Florence remains for the English-speaking traveller what it always has been - one of the best loved, and most visited, of cities.In this Traveller's Reader, Florence's rich and glorious past is brought vividly to life for the tourist of today through the medium of letters, diaries and memoirs of travellers to Florence from past centuries and of the Florentines themselves. The extracts chosen by cultural historain Edward Chaney include: Boccaccio on the Black Death; Vasari on the building of Giotto's Campanile; an eye-witness account of the installation of Michaelangelo's 'David'; the death of Elizabeth Barrett Browning at the Casa Guidi; and D. H. Lawrence and Dylan Thomas on twentieth-century Florentine society. Sir Harold Acton's introduction provides a concise history of the city from its origins, through its zenith as a prosperous city state which, under the Medici, gave birth to the Renaissance, and up to the Arno's devastating flood in 1966. Sir Harold Acton, man of letters, historian, aesthete, novelist and poet, spent most of his life in Florence. Among his best-known books is The Last Medici, Memoirs of an Aesthete.Currently Professor of Fine and Decorative Arts at Southampton Solent University, Edward Chaney is an honorary life member of the British Institute of Florence and taught at the University of Pisa for six years.
For the Benefit of Those Who See
By Rosemary Mahoney
"In this intelligent and humane book, Rosemary Mahoney writes of people who are blind....She reports on their courage and gives voice, time and again, to their miraculous dignity."--Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the TreeIn the tradition of Oliver Sacks's The Island of the Colorblind, Rosemary Mahoney tells the story of Braille Without Borders, the first school for the blind in Tibet, and of Sabriye Tenberken, the remarkable blind woman who founded the school. Fascinated and impressed by what she learned from the blind children of Tibet, Mahoney was moved to investigate further the cultural history of blindness. As part of her research, she spent three months teaching at Tenberken's international training centre for blind adults in Kerala, India, an experience that reveals both the shocking oppression endured by the world's blind, as well as their great resilience, integrity, ingenuity, and strength. By living among the blind, Rosemary Mahoney enables us to see them in fascinating close up, revealing their particular "quality of ease that seems to broadcast a fundamental connection to the world." Having read FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO SEE, you will never see the world in quite the same way again.
Fast Times in Palestine
By Pamela J. Olson
For much of her life- like many Westerners- most of what Pamela Olson knew of the Middle East was informed by headlines and stereotypes. But when she traveled to Palestine in 2003, she found herself thrown with dizzying speed into the realities of Palestinian life. Fast Times in Palestine is Olson's powerful, deeply moving account of life in Palestine- both the daily events that are universal to us all (house parties, concerts, barbecues, and weddings) as well as the violence, trauma, and political tensions that are particular to the country. From idyllic olive groves to Palestinian beer gardens, from Passover in Tel Aviv to Ramadan in a Hamas village, readers will find Olson's narrative both suspenseful and discerning. Her irresistible story offers a multi-faceted understanding of the Palestinian perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict, filling a gap in the West's understanding of the difficult relationship between the two nations. At turns funny, shocking, and galvanizing, Fast Times in Palestine is a gripping narrative that challenges our ways of thinking- not only about the Middle East, but about human nature, cultural identity, and our place in the world.
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles
By Jennifer Lee
If you think McDonald's is the most ubiquitous restaurant experience in America, consider that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys combined. New York Times reporter and Chinese-American (or American-born Chinese). In her search, Jennifer 8 Lee traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food. In a compelling blend of sociology and history, Jenny Lee exposes the indentured servitude Chinese restaurants expect from illegal immigrant chefs, investigates the relationship between Jews and Chinese food, and weaves a personal narrative about her own relationship with Chinese food. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles speaks to the immigrant experience as a whole, and the way it has shaped America
Forest Of Memories
By Donald MacIntosh
As a child, Donald MacIntosh's heroine was Mary Kingsley, a nineteenth century traveller who successfully took on the forbidding forests and swamps of West Africa. It was an adventure he was to follow for much of his adult life, spending thirty years as a forester in the so-called 'white man's grave'. MacIntosh, however, more than lived to tell his tales, which he does so here with characteristic gusto and relish.Here are stories of a somewhat salty nature, both in style and subject matter. In Africa, MacIntosh writes, the sea never sleeps and Forest of Memories is equally vibrant. As always, the tales are rich with characters and humour: Laval, the temperamental but highly successful fishing baboon; Jig-time Charlie, ladies' man and local footballing legend; and the beautiful Titi, who employed both feminine guile and cat droppings to win an international angling competition.As sharp and cutting as the teeth of the tigerfish, this latest collection finds Donald MacIntosh in splendidly wicked form once again.
France, A Love Story
By Camille Cusumano
France has long captured the imagination of Americans. For some women, a love of France and all things French started when they were schoolgirls tackling one of the most seductive tongues. For others the attraction came later when, drawn to what many consider the world's most exalted culture, they made summer trips or even moved there, learning much about this beguiling country along the way. In this beautiful collection, women explore their firsthand experiences with the people, landscape, flavors, history, art, culture, and character of this enchanted land. Featuring a delightful mix of perspectives,from M.F.K. Fisher's first days in Dijon and Janet Flanner's account of post-War Paris to the contemporary prose of Amanda Hesser,this book is sure to strike a chord with Francophiles everywhere.
Facing The Congo
By Jeffrey Tayler
At thirty-three one's direction in life should be clear, and mine was not.' In search of some direction, or at least a new challenge, Jeffrey Tayler gave up his day job of opening rejection letters from publishers and went exploring. Having always been fascinated by Africa and the great age of Victorian exploration he went to Kinshasa in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and found a boat to take him up-river to Kisangani, deep in the heart of the jungle. Not content with that, he then bought a pirogue (a kind of canoe), hired a guide and set out to paddle the 1,000 miles back to Kinshasa.A personal journey, an intrepid voyage, an exceptionally well-written travelogue: FACING THE CONGO is all these things and more. A wonderfully vivid and exciting read for armchair adventurers everywhere.
Frost On My Moustache
By Tim Moore
Inspired by the swashbuckling travelogues of Victorian diplomat Lord Dufferin, frail surburbanite Tim Moore sets out to prove his physical and spiritual worth before his sceptical Nordic in-laws by retracing Dufferin's epic voyage to Iceland and Spitzbergen. Dufferin's battles with icebergs, polar bears and the deep potations of hospitable Norsemen is a tale of derring-do; Moore's struggle against seasickness, vertigo and over-priced groceries is all too plainly one of derring-don't. As his bid to emulate the Empire tradition of fearless pluck in the face of adversity crumbles before haughty Icelandic skippers, a convoy of Norwegian Vikings and Spitzbergen's Soviet ghost towns, he finds himself transferring his affections to Dufferin's valet Wilson, a man so profoundly gloomy that 'he was seen to smile but once, when told that his colleague, the steward, had been almost thrown overboard'. As Moore says, 'Dufferin seems the personification of Kipling's 'If'. I'm more of a 'But... ' man myself.' FROST ON MY MOUSTACHE is the wretched apologia of a big earl's blouse.
French Lessons In Africa
By Peter Biddlecombe
Having travelled across West Africa for over ten years, Peter Biddlecombe's often hilarious account of a long and lingering liaison dangereuse with the sixty per cent of the continent that is French-speaking is a highly readable, hugely entertaining introduction to the je ne sais quoi of French Africa.In countries such as Togo, Mali and Burkina Faso, Biddlecome encounters old-fashioned camel butchers, modern witch doctors who run mail-order companies, gold smugglers and counterfeiters who send their sons to Oxford. He also experiences a delicious foie gras of places: from eerie voodoo ceremonies in the old slave port of Ouidah to Italian ice-cream parlors in the middle of the Sahara desert.And Biddlecombe reveals not only Francophone Africa's politics, often bizarre business traditions and culture, but also provides a mass of practical advice on everything from how to eat a water-rat to talking your way through a road block in the middle of an attempted coup.