Tag: Books

Jan Morris, historian, travel writer and trans pioneer, dies aged 94 | Books

Jan Morris, the historian and travel writer who evoked time and place with the flair of a novelist, has died aged 94.

As a journalist Morris broke monumental news, including Hillary and Norgay’s ascent of Everest, and the French involvement in the Israeli attack on Egypt in the Suez war. As a bestselling author of more than 30 books, she was equally lauded for histories including Pax Britannica, her monumental account of the British Empire, and for her colourful accounts of places from Venice to Oxford, Hong Kong to Trieste. But she was also well-known as a transgender pioneer, with Conundrum, her account of the journey from man to woman, an international sensation when it was published in 1974.

Her son Twm announced her death on Friday. “This morning at 11.40 at Ysbyty Bryn Beryl, on the Llyn, the author and traveller Jan Morris began her greatest journey. She leaves behind on the shore her life-long partner, Elizabeth,” he wrote.

Born James Morris in Somerset in 1926, Morris traced the roots of her transition back to childhood. In Conundrum, she recalled realising, aged three or four, that “I had been born into the wrong body, and should really be a girl”. At first she “cherished it as a secret”, the “conviction of mistaken sex … no more than a blur, tucked away at the back of my mind”. But all through her childhood she felt “a yearning for I knew not what, as though there were a piece missing from my pattern, or some element in me that should be hard and permanent, but was instead soluble and diffuse.”

Scoop … Morris’s report that Tenzing Norgay (pictured) and Edmund Hillary had conquered Everest was printed on the day of the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Scoop … Morris’s report that Tenzing Norgay (pictured) and Edmund Hillary had conquered Everest was printed on the day of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. Photograph: Edmund Hillary/AP

Morris joined the army in 1943, and served as an intelligence officer in Palestine before returning to study English at Oxford and working as a journalist. When the Times sent her on the 1953 expedition to climb Everest, Morris preserved the scoop by racing down the mountain and wiring a coded message: “Snow conditions bad stop advanced base abandoned yesterday stop awaiting improvement.” The story appeared on the morning Elizabeth II was crowned.

The star correspondent spent the next year travelling from New York to Los Angeles, a journey at the heart of Morris’s first book, Coast to Coast, in 1956. The Guardian called it “admirably evocative”, at its best “where he has drunk deeply of American life”.

A disagreement with the Times over its stance on Anthony Eden’s adventure in Suez saw Morris join the Guardian, heading for Egypt when Israel launched an invasion. Returning through the Sinai desert with Israeli forces, Morris noticed Egyptian lorries and tanks which had been completely incinerated. When she fell into conversation with some French fighter pilots based at an airport outside Tel Aviv, she discovered they had been supporting the Israeli campaign with napalm bombs. The report was the first evidence of French collusion in

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The Best Travel Books To Inspire Wanderlust

Travel looks a bit different these days and many folks are sticking closer to home, eschewing airplanes and far-off destinations. Even so, curiosity in other cultures, wild landscapes, or passions and hobbies across the globe hasn’t waned. Books have always created a window into an objectionably new worldview. Keep reading to discover top picks for titles that inspire wanderlust.

Women Adventurers and Globe-Trotters

Complicated and engaging, the women in Mia Kankimaki’s The Women I Think About at Night: Traveling the Paths of My Heroes are all explorers. Through each chapter, you’ll learn about women who went against the grain and set out on personal adventures to unapologetically live their lives with passion and fervor. You’ll read about a woman who ran a coffee plantation in Kenya; a travel writer who suffered from depression until she took the advice of a doctor to explore the high seas; a Buddhist nun who became the first white woman to enter Lhasa, a forbidden city in the mid 1920’s; an inventor who traveled around the world with just a handbag; and many more.

A Love Letter to Horses Around the World

Sarah Maslin Nir, a staff reporter for the New York Times, adores horses, their keepers, and the stories that are intertwined. Through her book, Horse Crazy: The Story of a Woman and a World in Love with an Animal, readers are taken on an insider’s adventure into the horse riding landscape across America (New York, California, Virginia, etc.). What’s more, is the deeper dive into Nir’s upbringing as she writes about the nannies who raised her, the accomplished and mature family she never really felt a part of (including a father who survived the Holocaust), and how horses helped her cope with a childhood full of loneliness.

Learn Survival Skills from an Expert

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to navigate by the night sky, tell time by the sun, start a fire without a match, keep warm in an igloo, fashion a canoe, or feel confident exploring the nature around you or in far-flung destinations, then you’ll love reading Richard Wiese’s book, Born to Explore. The chapters in this book read like a survival guide, giving you tools and tips for safety, navigation, shelter, food, weather, and spending lots of time in the great outdoors. Drawing on science, mental reasoning, adaptability and interpersonal skills, you’ll be equipped with knowledge and outdoor abilities after reading.

From Guatemala to America

The New American, by Micheline Aharonian Marcom, is a novel that takes you inside the experience of an undocumented college student “dreamer” named Emilio who, after getting into a car accident in California, is deported to Guatemala, a country he has never known. Emilio makes it to the U.S.—Mexico border and has to contend with law enforcement and a cast of nefarious characters. The book takes into account real-life

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The Glass Hotel: 100 Must-Read Books of 2020

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, many readers revisited Emily St. John Mandel‘s prophetic dystopian novel, Station Eleven, about a flu that wipes out most of the earth’s population. Her follow-up, The Glass Hotel, is a more grounded work: Like Station Eleven, it examines how one event—in this case the toppling of a Bernie Madoff-esque schemer—impacts a large group of seemingly unconnected characters. But if Station Eleven is a novel about a lack of choice in the face of an unstoppable catastrophe, The Glass Hotel is a book about the choices we can make, and their long-term consequences. Turning a blind eye to your husband’s crimes could change the trajectory of the rest of your life—as could claiming credit for someone else’s artwork. After many engrossing chapters, each told from the perspective of a new character, the themes of this kaleidoscopic novel lock into place. The characters are haunted by their pasts and must choose to either reckon with the ghosts of their mistakes or succumb to them. The stories add up to a profound meditation on personal responsibility at a time when everything seems out of our control.

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Trump Books Four Seasons Total Landscaping Instead Of Luxury Hotel For Press Conference

The Trump team held a press conference in a parking lot outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia

On Saturday November 7, Joe Biden won the 2020 U.S. Presidential election. As people celebrated in the streets across the country, Trump and his legal team prepared for a news conference to talk about voter fraud (despite the fact there’s no evidence to support it) and their plans to file additional law suits. Instead of the presser being at the Four Seasons Hotel Philaelphia, where Trump initially tweeted it would be held, it was actually held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a landscaping company situated under the interstate, next to an adult bookstore, and across from a crematorium. I mean, the jokes just write themselves.

“Lawyers News Conference Four Seasons, Philadelphia. 11:00 a.m.,” President Trump tweeted Saturday morning, before issuing a second tweet that it was not at the luxury downtown hotel but rather outside a business called Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Slate reports that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was standing by when confused journalists arrived at the site and quickly speculated that someone in the Trump campaign made an error when booking the location.

In the parking lot, a podium was set up in front of a closed garage door with a Trump campaign poster. Across the street, oh so poetically, a crematorium sat. Fantasy Island Adult Bookstore was located right next door. During the news conference, Giuliani insisted that Trump was not going to concede the election and again claimed, without evidence, that ballots had been tampered with in the state of Pennsylvania.

The humble area seemed a far cry from a location Trump or anyone on his team would normally hang out let alone hold a serious press conference contesting election results. As people began to realize what looked like a hilarious mistake had, in fact, happened, Twitter erupted with the kind of joy that only a moment like this could create.

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No travel plans? Try three new books about the nexus of travel and design.

As the season of sentimental journeys approaches, travel plans are as flat as a ribbon of asphalt slicing through harvested farm fields.

a large balloon in the sky: This photo of a hot air ballooon over Myanmar is featured in “Travel by Design.”

© Tom Stringer
This photo of a hot air ballooon over Myanmar is featured in “Travel by Design.”

Or, maybe, flat as a hardcover.

This hibernation holiday, the safest global itinerary may be a paper trail, traveled via books — as personal fireside reading or as gifts. And when carry-on restrictions are no issue, oversize volumes are just fine.

Three visually rich books offer a design-oriented trip to our currently limited-access world. The trio of tomes invites thwarted travelers to stack volumes on the coffee table, settle into the sofa and turn the pages of our planet.

A Wes Anderson world

Travel is cinematic, a movie set in which we act out scenes populated by strangers. But the coronavirus has called “cut” on our personal productions, which makes “Accidentally Wes Anderson,” (Little Brown, 368 pp., $35), by Wally Koval, all the more appealing.

The playful book, an extension of a popular Instagram account of the same name, depicts 200 locations in 50 countries, with images from 180 contributing photographers, that echo the signature style of film director Wes Anderson. The pages of the book will have a familiar appeal for fans of Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and other pleasantly quirky movies.

“Accidentally” provides the theatrical whimsy we need now, when travel (not to mention moviegoing) is mostly a dream.

When life seems upended, the pleasing symmetry of the Anderson-style images offers a comforting sense of control. But this is much more than a picture book. Each photo is accompanied by detailed and sometimes esoteric context, such as maintaining the clocks and breaking in the queen’s shoes at Buckingham Palace, the inspiration for George Gershwin’s “Summertime” lyrics and a Fred “Mister” Rogers connection to the Pittsburgh Athletic Association.

[Great reads for the armchair traveler]

The writing is often as lighthearted and lore-filled as the photos of vintage swimming pools, sherbet-colored bungalows and a faded coral-pink lighthouse on an uninhabited island. Koval says visitors to Schloss Moritzburg in Saxony, Germany, will come away with a lifetime’s fill of colossal antlers. And he compares the tiles of a church roof in Budapest to the pattern of a lanyard from summer camp. Given the book’s silver-screen inspiration, it’s fitting that James Bond and R2-D2 earn mentions.

a sign on the side of a mountain

© Provided by The Washington Post

a car parked in front of a house

© Provided by The Washington Post

Images of grand buildings are intermingled with sites of humble appeal, including a little blue boatshed that’s the most photographed spot in Perth, Australia; a sand-covered town in Namibia and a polished railway station that welcomes no trains.

The world, particularly places off the beaten path, provides a script-worthy narrative. There’s the tale of a river of burning whiskey in Dublin being extinguished by horse manure, and a ghost village above the Arctic Circle, accessible only by sea or snowmobile, where the world’s northernmost basketball court stands empty of play.

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