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This page updated 15 October 2014


Books - Cities - Places - Regions

Where the bias is more to modern travel writing than to history

See the Cityscape series of books from Lonely Planet, available since 2006 if not earlier. On Singapore, Tokyo, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Delhi, etc

“The object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land.” G. K. Chesterton.



"Sulima" and "Hala" as told to Batya Swift Yasgur, Behind the Burqa: Our Life in Afghanistan and How We Escaped to Freedom. Wiley, 2002, 277pp. (Two Afghan women tell their revealing stories)

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Africa general: Sally Henderson, Ivory Moon. Macmillan Australia, 2010. (Landscapes and features, etc)

North Africa

North Africa

Casablanca: Tahir Shah, The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca. Bantam Books, 2006.


Michael Haag, Alexandria: City of Memory. Yale University Press, 2005, 368pp.

North Africa

Marie-Pascale Rauzier, Morocco: A Sense of Place. Thames and Hudson, 2008. (A homage to local design, culture and style)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Geert Mak, Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the City. Harvill, 2000. 338pp.


Stephen Martin, A History of Antarctica. State Library of New South Wales Press, 1997, 272pp.

Adrian Caesar, The White: Last Days in the Antarctic Journeys of Scott and Mawson, 1911-1913. Picador, 1999?

Arnhem Land, Australia

Anthropologist Les Hiatt with Frank Ngurrabangurraba of Maningrida Area, Arnhem Land, People of the Rivermouth. (Book and CD-ROM, the CD-ROM highly-praised). National Museum of Australia and Aboriginal Studies Press, 2002.

Australia, non-urban

Allan Fox and Steve Parish (photographer), Wild Habitats. ABC Books, 2008, 352pp.

Australia, Tasmania

Dave Watts and Cathie Plowman, Where To See Wildlife in Tasmania. Jacana Books, 2008, 200pp.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Robin Waterfield, Athens: A History. Macmillan, 2004, 410pp.

Auschwitz, Poland

Sybille Steinbacher, Auschwitz: A History. Penguin, 2005, 160pp.




Cameron Forbes, Under The Volcano: The Story of Bali. Black Inc., 2007, 286pp. 



Anonymous, A Woman In Berlin. Virago, 2005, 320pp. (A now-classic but still anonymous account of the degradation of the women of Berlin at the end of World War Two)



Robert Dompnier, Bhutan: Kingdom of the Dragon. New Delhi, Timeless Books, 1999.


Bombay, India (Mumbai)

Gyan Prakash, Mumbai Fables. Princeton University Press, 2011, 396pp.

Suketa Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. Review Books, 2005, 497pp.



Norman Davies, The Isles: A History. Macmillan, 2000. 1222pp. (History of Britain).


Calcutta, India

Simon and Rupert Winchester, Calcutta. Lonely Planet, 2004.

J. P. Losty, Calcutta: City of Palaces. nd? British Libraries, Arnold Publishers with compilations by S. Mukherjee.

Geoffrey Moorhouse, Calcutta. 1971. (A ¨cityography book¨. In Calcutta, ¨everything in nature is against itself, including the weather¨, thought to be a definitive work)

Suketa Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. Review Books, 2005, 497pp.

J. P. Losty, Calcutta: City of Palaces. nd? British Libraries, Arnold Publishers with compilations by S. Mukherjee.

Simon and Rupert Winchester, Calcutta. Lonely Planet, 2004.


Cambodia: Milton Osborne, Phnom Penh: A Cultural and Literary History. Signal Books-Unireps, 2008.


Stella Dong, Shanghai: The Rise and Fall of a Decadent City. HarperCollins, 2001, 318pp.

Julia Lovell, The Great Wall. Picador, 2007, 412pp. (On The Great Wall of China)

Sarah Fuller, Hong Kong. Wheel Away Disabled Travel, 2010.

Continent, The (Europe)

Kevin McCloud, Grand Tour of Europe. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2010, 216pp.

Brian Dolan, Ladies of the Grand Tour. HarperCollins, 2001, 330pp. (Well-born women taking tours of The Continent in 18th Century and later)


Luis M. Garcia, Child of the Revolution: Growing up in Castro's Cuba. Allen and Unwin, 2006.


Sir George Hill, A History of Cyprus. Vol. 1. Cambridge at the University Press, 1949.


Darwin, Australia

Gary McKay, Tracy: The Storm That Wiped Out Darwin on Christmas Day, 1974. Allen and Unwin, 2001.

Danube River, Germany

Claudio Magris, Danube. nd, before 2001.



Findhorn, Scotland

P. Hawken, The Magic of Findhorn. New York, Bantam, 1976.

France, Paris

Patrice Higonnet, Paris: Capital of the World. Harvard University Press, 2005, 493pp.

Graham Robb, Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris. Picador, 2010, 320pp.



Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam: Iain Finlay and Trish Clark, Good Morning Hanoi: A Year on the Airwaves in the New Vietnam. Simon and Schuster, nd.

Pam Scott, Life in Hanoi. New Holland, 2007, 240pp.

Walter Mason, Destination Saigon. Allen and Unwin, 2010, 255pp.

Hobart, Australia: Peter Timms, In Search of Hobart. New South, 2009, 278pp.



Elena Kostioukovitch, Why Italians Love To Talk About Food. Picador, 2010. ("An extraordinary work of dedication and scholarship" says Australian reviewer Bruce Elder)

Peter Ackroyd, Venice: Pure City. Chatto and Windus, 2009, 403pp. (With a good deal on the oddities and the dark side of life in a city built on and over water, which is why it had no traditions and had to invent them)

Paula Weideger, Venetian Dreaming: Finding a Foothold in an Enchanted City. Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster, 2004 (?)

See also, James H. S. McGregor, Venice from the Ground Up. Harvard University Press, nd.

Madena de Vlasi, That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story. Allen and Unwin, 2008.

Italy, Tuscany

Martin Calder, A Summer in Tuscany. Nicholas Brealey/Allen and Unwin, 2008.



Mira Kamdar, Planet India: How the Fastest-Growing Democracy is Transforming America and the World. Scribner, 2007, 320pp.



Japan, generally, Alex Kerr (US writer), Lost Japan. 1996. ("A love story" about old Japanese customs now at risk of being lost)

Richard McGregor, Japan Swings: Politics, Culture and Sex in the New Japan. Allen and Unwin, 1996.

Jerusalem, Israel

Fosco Maraini, text, Alfred Bernheim, photos, Jerusalem: Rock of Ages. New York, Harcourt/Brace and World. 1969.



Kabul, Afghanistan

Asne Seierstad, The Bookseller of Kabul. 2002-2003. (On life recently in Afghanistan, an international bestseller)

Iris Makler, Our Woman in Kabul. Transworld, 2003. (How women fared under the rule of the Taliban)

Korea, North

Kongdan Oh et al, North Korea Through the Looking Glass. The Brookings Institution, 2003. (On leadership cults in North Korea)

Bradley K. Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Kora and the Kim Dynasty. Thomas Dunne Books, 2005, 704pp.

Jasper Becker, Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea. Oxford University Press, 2005, 274pp.



Christopher Kremmer, Bamboo Palace: Discovering the Lost Dynasty of Laos. Flamingo/HarperCollins, 2003, 258pp.


Peter Ackroyd, Thames: The Sacred River. Chatto and Windus, 2007, 490pp.

Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography. Chatto and Windus, 2000.

London: Robin Barton and Hayley Cull, Slow London. Affirm Press, 2010.



Italy - Ernesto De Martino, The Land of Remorse: A Study of Southern Italian Tarantism. (Trans. by Dorothy Louise Zinn), Free Association Books, 332pp, 2006. ("An ancient southern Italian possession cult is suddenly fashionable".)


New York

New York: Michael Sorkin, Twenty Minutes in Manhattan. Reaktion Books, 2010.

Joel Rose, New York Sawed in Half. Bloomsbury, 2001-2002, 150pp. (Famous hoax about part of Manhattan Island splitting off and then sinking).

Philippe Petit, To Reach The Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between The Twin Towers. Faber, 2003, 227pp.

Angus Kress Gillespie, Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center. Rutgers, 2001.

Anne-Marie Cantwell and Diana diZerega Wall, Unearthing Gotham: The Archaeology of New York City. 2001.



Papua - New Guinea

Stuart Inder, (Ed.), Tales of Papua New Guinea: Insights, Experiences, Reminiscences. Published by Retired Officers Association of PNG, 2001, 200pp.


Tahir Shah, Trail of Feathers: In Search of the Birdmen of Peru. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2001. (Did Incas really fly over the jungles of Peru?)


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ruy Castro, Rio de Janeiro: Carnival Under Fire. nd? Or 2004.

Carmen Michael (who happens to be an Australian), Chasing Bohemia. Scribe, 2008, 256pp.


Saudi Arabia

Arabia: Joe Bennett, Hello Dubai. Simon and Schuster, 2010, 304pp. (On 68 wonderful cities)

Saudi Arabia

Sandra Mackey, The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom. WW Norton, 2003, 446pp.


Sylvia Brooke, Queen of the Headhunters: An Autobiography of HH the Hon. Sylvia Lady Brooke, Ranee of Sarawak. London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1970.

Shanghai, China

Stella Dong, Shanghai: The Rise and Fall of a Decadent City. HarperCollins, 2001, 318pp.

Jan Wong, Beijing Confidential. HarperColins. 2008, 336pp. See also Antonia Finnane, Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation. University of NSW Press, 2008, 360pp.


Raymond Carr, (Ed.), Spain: A History. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Santiago, Spain, as a place of Christian pilgrimage

Mary E. Wilkie, Walking to Santiago: Diary of a Pilgrimage. Armidale, NSW Australia, Cranleigh House, 2001. (See website from Confraternity of St James, http://www.csj.org.uk)


Rosemary Goring, (Ed.), Scotland: The Autobiography. Viking, 2007, 483pp. 

Sydney, Australia

Shirley Fitzgerald, Sydney: A Story of a City. Sydney, HarperCollins, 1999.

On Canberra, Ian Fraser and Peter Marsack, A Bush Capital Year. CSIRO Publishing, 2011. 323pp.

Delia Falconer, Sydney. New South, 2010, 272pp.

Stephen Martin, A History of Antarctica. State Library of New South Wales Press, 1997, 272pp.

Australia, Chris Hammer, The River. Melbourne University Press, 2010, 272pp. (On the Murray-Darling River Basin)

Sydney: The Rocks area: Anna Cossu, A Place in the Rocks. Historic Houses Trust, Australia, 2008. (Historical overview)

Geoffrey Moorehouse, Sydney. Allen and Unwin, 1999.

Lucy Hughes Turnbull, Sydney: Biography of a City. Sydney, Random House, 1999.

Shirley Fitzgerald, Sydney: A Story of a City. Sydney, HarperCollins, 1999.

Surfing &c in general

Re Australia -- Surf Guide, Wavefinder Australia, ($24.75 in 2009)

Surf: Tim Simond, Dive In Style. Thames and Hudson, 2010. (A tour of fine resorts to try around the world)



Patrick French, Tibet Tibet. HarperCollins, 2003, 324pp.


Robyn Davidson, (Ed.), The Picador Book of Journeys. Picador, 2001, 467pp.

Trips, marvelous

Trips: as in Marvellous Trips: Colin Thubron, Shadow of the Silk Road. No details, 2006.


Istanbul: Orthan Pamuk, Istanbul. Faber, nd.

Giles Milton, Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance. Sceptre, 2008, 426pp.


United Kingdom

London: Sukhdev Sandhu, Night Haunts. Verso Books, 2008. (Travel book)



Jan Morris,  A Venetian Bestiary. Faber, 2008, 100pp.


World, in general

Cities, general: John Julius Norwich, The Great Cities in History. Thames and Hudson, 2010.

Neil Parkyn, (Ed.), Wonders of World Architecture. Thames and Hudson, 2010.


Anne-Marie Cantwell and Diana diZerega Wall, Unearthing Gotham: The Archaeology of New York City. 2001.

On San Francisco: Rebecca Solnit, Infinite City. University of California Press, 2011, 158pp.




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