am 22. Oktober 1999
Centuries-old travelogues tend to have this archaic, dusty sort of air about them. We can't identify with the people who wrote them because the language in no way resembles ours. This is of course the fault of those who translate those documents. Then too, travellers of medieval times or earlier tended to write about things not so much of interest today. In THE ADVENTURES OF IBN BATTUTA, Ross E. Dunn has successfully avoided these problems by writing ABOUT the 14th century North African traveller, Ibn Battuta, not just translating his book. Ibn Battuta (1304-1368) travelled around the civilized world of his day. Surprisingly enough for Eurocentric folks, the term "civilized" only included Spain at that time. It did, however, include most of the Islamic regions on earth, plus India and China. Dunn includes chapters on Tangier, North Africa, Egypt-Syria-Palestine, Mecca, Persia and Iraq, Yemen, Oman, and East Africa, Constantinople, Anatolia, Central Asia, India and the Maldives, China, Spain, and Mali---across the Sahara in West Africa. In each, he gives a picture of the times in that particular place, what Ibn Battuta said he saw and what he must have seen or experienced but didn't mention. Dunn recounts many of the Moroccan's interesting adventures, from being jailed in Delhi to trying as a judge to forbid Maldivian women going topless in public. Dunn also places Ibn Battuta in a framework of a hemisphere-wide Islamic civilization and as an ambitious semi-scholar who was perhaps not so well studied as he wanted people to believe. So, not only is this book a record of Ibn Battuta's life and voyages, it is a very interesting commentary on a large part of the world in the 14th century and the life story of a particular individual. If you like history, if you are interested in what was happening in the world beyond Europe in the days when "knights were bold" [and illiterate], read this book. It comes with good maps and some black and white photographs of places that might still look a bit like what they did in Ibn Battuta's time.
am 13. Dezember 1999
It is incredible to think that back in the 1300's one person could have traveled from Morocco through North and East Africa, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, the Crimea, India, Ceylon, Indonesia and China. I get tired just writing about it! But this is what Ibn Battuta did. When you think of how difficult (and dangerous!) it was to travel back in those days, it is just amazing. What makes this book especially fascinating is the look it provides into Muslim society. Here was a man who journeyed thousands of miles over many, many years but who only very rarely felt himself to be a stranger in a strange land. In some places Islam was in the majority and in some places it was the minority but Ibn Battuta was always able to find educated Moslems similar to himself who could provide a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear and money to spend. Very importantly also, they could provide spiritual support to a person very far from home. This book is best when it settles down in one place for an extended period, such as when Ibn Battuta journeyed to Medina and Mecca. This is the most important trip a Moslem takes during an entire lifetime and it is expected, health and finances permitting, that a believer will make the trip at least once in a lifetime. Medina is where the tomb of The Prophet is and Mecca was His birthplace. Mr. Dunn provides a physical description of the landscape of both places so that you can almost feel you are there and he also gives a fascinating description of the logistics of the journey as this is a trip that thousands of people would take each year and a solid support system was needed to provide transportation and food and water, etc. The religious ceremonies that a person was required to go through once in the Holy Cities is also given in great detail. The book is also very good when Ibn Battuta settles down in India for awhile and gets a nice, cushy government job working for a despot who sounds as though he was probably psychotic! You could be in his favor one minute but apparently if you looked at him the wrong way he might decide on the spur of the moment to have you executed. He would also come up with grandiose ideas to rearrange the entire society which would usually wind up making everyone miserable, if not dead. Kind of sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it? I guess some things don't change over the centuries..... Anyway, the only drawback to this book is that Mr. Dunn is trying to cram a lot of travel into a 300 page book so that some of the time you feel as though you are being given the "bum's rush" on one of those modern package trips where they shuttle you through 14 cities in 14 days. After awhile some of the itinerary starts to become one, big blur. It makes you wish that Mr. Dunn would have decided to write a longer book where things could have proceeded at a more leisurely pace. But this book is a good starting point and it gave me a glimpse into a world I knew very little about but would like to learn more of.
am 13. Januar 1999
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even more than reading Marco Polo. Battuta logged over 70,000 miles, some of it through dangerous regions, and as far as from Morocco to China and back. Travel that far was an astonishing feat for that period. It offers very interesting insights into the Muslim world of the 14th century. The author also attempts to paint a realistic picture of Battuta as a man of his times. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Battuta's pilgrimage to Mecca and his experiences in India. One thing I think some Western readers might also gain from this book is a greater appreciation and understanding of the Muslim world in general and the Arab world in particular.
am 14. November 1998
Ibn Battuta may have been the single greatest traveler of premodern times. In this book, Dunn is able to not only illustrate the qualities of Battuta, but also the complex intricacies of the inertcommunicating zone of the Islamic empire. It also effectively highlites the threads and interwoven cultural changes that are superceded by the Islamic faith, which allowed a traveler such as Battuta to accomplish his great feats. This may be the most detailed and creatively displayed work in existence which describes the 13th century Islamic world, and is a synoptic introduction to the post-Crusade period.
am 19. August 1998
Excellent research by the author. My compliments. I learned a lot on the issues of those days. The events described in Ibn Battuta's My Rihla are carefully compared and analyzed with other documents from that time. I learned a lot about the man Ibn Battuta, and I must say I was a bit disappointed. He was not really a very nice man. The author shows why Ibn Battuta did the things he did. One thing is for sure: Ibn Battuta was a great traveller.
If you are interested in Ibn Battuta, or the time he lived in then this is a must read.
am 24. Februar 1998
This book is the travel accounts of Ibn Battuta a Moroccan traveler from 14th. century A.D. who traveled from Morocco to China bassing by North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Iran, Byzantine empire, South East Asia(During his travel he was appointed as a supreme judge in Delhy(India) and in Maldive islands(His journey lasted for more than 20 years). He also visited Spain, and West Africa. At the end he went back to Morocco and dictated his travel accounts to the script of the Sultan Anan al-Marini of Morocco.