In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor


Deborah Mitford - 2008
    This halcyon visit sparked off a deep friendship and a lifelong exchange of highly entertaining letters.

Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer


Geoffrey Kent - 2015
    Today, he is the co-owner of Abercrombie & Kent, a half-billion dollar international corporation that provides unique, stylish luxury travel to the planet’s wildest frontiers, for an exclusive clientele that includes Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Ralph Lauren, and DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.In his first book, this “Indiana Jones meets James Bond” entrepreneur who invented the cutting-edge travel industry tells his story—his life reads like a work of fiction, growing up barefoot in the African bush, riding his motorcycle across the continent, and ultimately becoming the most sought-after travel professional in the world. Safari: Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer is a breathtaking and exhilarating trip to some of the most exotic and stunning locations on earth. Beginning in Africa and ultimately spanning the globe, it is packed with sometimes harrowing and always entertaining memories from Kent’s life and career, revealing fascinating tales from his personal and ultra-exclusive celebrity clients. The book is also filled with insider travel tips and award-winning photography. In addition, Kent provides an inspiring bucket list of must-see sites, so that every class of voyager and even armchair travelers can experience the wonders of the world.From sophisticated cities to far-flung locales, Safari lets readers indulge their spirit of adventure, whisking them to the places of their dreams—and beyond through the lens of this larger-than-life action adventurer.

Castles in the Air: The Restoration Adventures of Two Young Optimists and a Crumbling Old Mansion


Judy Corbett - 2004
    Gwydir Castle was inhabited by ravers and rats until Judy Corbett and her husband Peter Welford found and acquired this 500-year-old house mouldering in the foothills of Snowdonia. Despite the toads, strange smells and squatters, they decided to mortgage themselves to the hilt to bring the castle back to life.This is an evocatively written and genuinely moving book and is infused with an extraordinary sense of place. The couple's adventures in a gothic wonderland lead them through plots both supernatural and historical. In a museum storeroom in a Bronx warehouse they find a missing room, in the castle's Solar Tower the ghost of a young woman appears and from the far edges of the woods a silent man called Sven emerges to befriend the couple and their beloved castle.For everyone who has ever wanted to live in a glorious house or escape from the mundanity of life - Castles in the Air is pure magic.

Power Lines: Two Years on South Africa's Borders


Jason Carter - 2002
    An account of life in contemporary South Africa as presented by a Peace Corps volunteer and the grandson of Jimmy Carter offers a portrait of a country struggling to recover from deep racial divisions.

North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life


Bob Buck - 2002
    Buck first flew in the 1920s, inspired by the exploits of Charles Lindbergh. In 1930, at age sixteen, he flew solo from coast to coast, breaking the junior transcontinental speed record. In 1936 he flew nonstop from Burbank, California, to Columbus, Ohio, in a 90-horsepower Monocoupe to establish a world distance record for light airplanes. He joined Transcontinental and Western Air (T&WA) as a copilot in 1937; when he retired thirty-seven years later, he had made more than 2,000 Atlantic crossings -- and his role had progressed from such tasks as retracting a DC-2's landing gear with a cockpit-based hand pump to command of a wide-body 747. Buck's experiences go back to a time when flying was something glamorous. He flew with and learned from some true pioneers of aviation -- the courageous pilots who created the airmail service during flying's infancy. At the behest of his employer Howard Hughes, Buck spent three months flying with Tyrone Power on a trip to South America, Africa, and Europe. He flew the New York-Paris-Cairo route in the days when flight plans called for lengthy stopovers, and enjoyed all that those romantic places had to offer. He took part in a flight that circled the globe "sideways" (from pole to pole). He advised TWA's president on the shift to jet planes; a world expert on weather and flight, Buck used a B-17G to chase thunderstorms worldwide as part of a TWA-Air Force research project during World War II, for which he was awarded the Air Medal (as a civilian) by President Truman.In "North Starover My Shoulder," Bob Buck tells of a life spent up and over the clouds, and of the wonderful places and marvelous people who have been a part of that life. He captures the feel, taste, and smell of flying's greatest era -- how the people lived, what they did and felt, and what it was really like to be a part of the world as it grew smaller and smaller. He relates stories from his innumerable visits to Paris, the city he loves more than any other -- echoing Gertrude Stein's view that "America is my country, and Paris is my home town" -- and from his trips to the Middle East, including flights to Israel before and after it became a state. A terrific storyteller and a fascinating man, Bob Buck has turned his well-lived life into a delightful memoir for anyone who remembers when there really was something special in the air.

Singing Away the Hunger: The Autobiography of an African Woman


Mpho M'Atsepo Nthunya - 1996
    Mpho's voice is a voice almost never heard in literature or history, a voice from within the struggle of "ordinary" African women to negotiate a world which incorporates ancient pastoral ways and the congestion, brutality, and racist violence of city life. It is also the voice of a born storyteller who has a subject worthy of her gifts - a story for all the world to hear.

Dancing With Cuba


Alma Guillermoprieto - 2004
    For six months, she worked in mirrorless studios (it was considered more revolutionary); her poorly trained but ardent students worked without them but dreamt of greatness. Yet in the midst of chronic shortages and revolutionary upheaval, Guillermoprieto found in Cuba a people whose sense of purpose touched her forever. In this electrifying memoir, Guillermoprieto–now an award-winning journalist and arguably one of our finest writers on Latin America– resurrects a time when dancers and revolutionaries seemed to occupy the same historical stage and even a floor exercise could be a profoundly political act. Exuberant and elegiac, tender and unsparing, Dancing with Cuba is a triumph of memory and feeling.

Six Years With Al Qaeda


Stephen McGown - 2020
    Life as he knew it changed in that instant. With nothing to bargain with and everything to lose, for the next six years Steve became reluctantly engaged in what he refers to as, “the greatest chess game of my life”.Thousands of kilometres away in Johannesburg, the shock of his kidnapping hit his wife Cath and the rest of the McGown family. Working every option they could find – from established diplomatic protocols to the murky back channels of the kidnap game – they set to work on trying to free Steve.To this day he holds the unenviable record of Al Qaeda’s longest held prisoner.Six Years With Al Qaeda is not just an incredible story of mental strength, physical endurance and the resilience of the human spirit, but also a unique, nuanced perspective on one of the world’s most feared terrorist organisations. Not only did Steve survive his ordeal, but in many respects he came out of the desert both a changed man and a stronger, more positive human.

Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia


Tim Bascom - 2006
    The unflinchingly observant narrator of this memoir reveals his missionary parents’ struggles in a sometimes hostile country. Sent reluctantly to boarding school in the capital, young Tim finds that beyond the gates enclosing that peculiar, isolated world, conflict roils Ethiopian society. When secret riot drills at school are followed with an attack by rampaging students near his parents' mission station, Tim witnesses the disintegration of his family’s African idyll as Haile Selassie’s empire begins to crumble.Like Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Chameleon Days chronicles social upheaval through the keen yet naive eyes of a child. Bascom offers readers a fascinating glimpse of missionary life, much as Barbara Kingsolver did in The Poisonwood Bible.

Passage to Ararat


Michael J. Arlen - 1976
    Arlen goes beyond the portrait of his father, the famous Anglo-Armenian novelist of the 1920s, that he created in Exiles to try to discover what his father had tried to forget: Armenia and what it meant to be an Armenian, a descendant of a proud people whom conquerors had for centuries tried to exterminate. But perhaps most affectingly, Arlen tells a story as large as a whole people yet as personal as the uneasy bond between a father and a son, offering a masterful account of the affirmation and pain of kinship.

Paradise


Larry McMurtry - 2001
    Opening up to her son in her final days, his mother makes a stunning revelation of a previous marriage and sends McMurtry on a journey of an entirely different kind. Vividly, movingly, and with infinite care, McMurtry paints a portrait of his parents' marriage against the harsh, violent landscape of West Texas. It is their roots—laced with overtones of hard work, bitter disappointment, and the Puritan ethic—that McMurtry challenges by traveling to Tahiti, a land of lush sensuality and easy living. With fascinating detail, shrewd observations, humorous pathos, and unforgettable characters, he begins to answer some of the questions of what paradise is, whether it exists, and how different it is from life in his hometown of Archer City, Texas.

Mango Elephants in the Sun: How Life in an African Village Let Me Be in My Skin


Susana Herrera - 1999
    To the villagers, however, she's a rich American tourist, a nasara (white person) who has never known pain or want. They stare at her in silence. The children giggle and run away. At first her only confidant is a miraculously communicative lizard. Susana fights back with every ounce of heart and humor she possesses, and slowly begins to make a difference. She ventures out to the village well and learns to carry water on her head. In a classroom crowded to suffocation she finds a way to discipline her students without resorting to the beatings they are used to. She makes ice cream in the scorching heat, and learns how to plant millet and kill chickens. She laughs with the villagers, cries with them, works and prays with them, heals and is helped by them. Village life is hard but magical. Poverty is rampant—yet people sing and share what little they have. The termites that chew up her bed like morning cereal are fried and eaten in their turn ("bite-sized and crunchy like Doritos"). Nobody knows what tomorrow may bring, but even the morning greetings impart a purer sense of being in the moment. Gradually, Susana and the village become part of each other. They will never be the same again.

Black Gold of the Sun: Searching for Home in Africa and Beyond


Ekow Eshun - 2005
    Eshun makes his way to Accra, Ghana’s cosmopolitan capital city; to the storied slave forts of Elmina; to the historic warrior kingdom of Asante. He reflects on earlier pilgrims who followed the same path–W. E. B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Malcolm X–and on the millions of slaves shipped to the West from the Ghanaian coast. He recalls the racially charged years of his youth, and he considers the paradoxes and possibilities in contemporary Britain for someone like himself. Finally, he uncovers a long-held secret about his lineage that will compel him to question everything he knows about himself and about where he comes from.Written with exquisite particularity of place and mind, and with rare immediacy and candor, Black Gold of the Sun tells a story of identity, belonging, and unexpected hope.

The Ponds of Kalambayi


Mike Tidwell - 1990
    A hilarious and wrenching memoir from a peace Corps volunteer in Zaire.

House of Stone: The True Story of a Family Divided in War-Torn Zimbabwe


Christina Lamb - 2007
    But by August 2002, Marondera, in eastern Zimbabwe, had been turned into a bloody battleground, the center of a violent campaign. One bright morning, Nigel Hough, one of the few remaining white farmers, received the news he had been dreading. A crowd of war veterans was at his gates, demanding he hand over his homestead. The mob started a fire and dragged him to an outhouse. To his shock, the leader of the invaders was his family’s much-loved nanny Aqui. “Get out or we’ll kill you,” she said. “There is no place for whites in this country.”            Christina Lamb uncovered the astonishing saga she tells in House of Stone while traveling back and forth to report clandestinely on Zimbabwe. Her powerful narrative traces the history of the brutal civil war, independence, and the Mugabe years, all through the lives of two people on opposing sides. Although born within a few miles of each other, their experience growing up could not have been more different. While Nigel played cricket and piloted his own plane, Aqui grew up in a mud hut, sleeping on the floor with her brothers and sisters. “They had cars and went shopping in South Africa. We didn’t have food and had to walk an hour each way to fetch water,” she remembers.            House of Stone (“dzimba dza mabwe” or “Zimbabwe” in Shona) is based on a remarkable series of interviews with this white farmer and black nanny, set against the backdrop of the last British colony to become independent, and the descent into madness of Robert Mugabe, one of Africa’s most respected nationalist leaders.