Travels With A Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
The Tangerine in question is not an orange in someone's pocket or backpack but Ibn Battutah, born in Tangier, Morocco in 1304. At the age of twenty one he set out on a journey that would eventually cover some 75,000 miles at a time when travelling was not a simple, safe or comfortable affair.
Ibn Battutah was Islam's greatest traveler and his wanderings took him to such places as Iraq, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, the coast of East Africa, the Byzantine Empire, central Asia, India and China.
Tim Mackintosh-Smith is an Arabist who studied classical Arabic at Oxford University and is also fluent in colloquial Arabic. Like IB he set out at twenty one for Arabia, eventually settling in Yemen.
The Greatest Traveler of the Middle Ages
In this book the author recounts his adventures following the first part of Ibn Battutah's travels which took the great man from Morocco across to Egypt and then to the Middle East. From there he made his way to modern day Oman and back to Turkey and the Crimea Peninsula.
In "Travels with a Tangerine" IB is the author's guide and the present and past are expertly intertwined to give us a fascinating view of how things were as seen through Ibn Battutah's eyes in the latter part of the Middle Ages and what they are like now.
This is not just a book about what IB did and saw, we learn about his personality, foibles, worries, personal tastes and weaknesses. In all we get a complete picture of Ibn Battutah and the world in which he lived.
This is a fascinating book from a number of perpectives. Not only did I learn about IB, but TSM's ( the author ) remarkable knowledge and experience of the Muslim world makes this an important book for learning about present day Islam and the history of the region.
As TSM follows in IB's foot steps he recounts numerous personal anecdotes, adventures and encounters all of which make this an enjoyable and exciting travel book.
Some people may find this book a little slow in places, but this is a small price to pay for a fascinating look at the Middle East as it is today and as it was more than 600 years ago.
Tim Mackintosh Smith followed this book with two more chronicling the further travels and adventures of Ibn Battutah.
Tagged with: Tim Mackintosh-Smith
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