Books about travel

NEW BOOK, September 2019
Walking with Ghosts in New Guinea
Crossing the Kokoda Trail in the last wild place on earth

“Among the best travel narratives I have read . . . I highly recommend this book to armchair travelers anxious to experience life in a truly wild, and in many ways primitive, world.” —James P. Duffy, author of War at the End of the World

Acclaimed travel writer and historian Rick Antonson tackles his most challenging adventure yet: a formidable trail through the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea.

Rick Antonson has traveled to parts of the world that are not simply exotic but sometimes damn near inaccessible. He has climbed Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey, traveling beyond that summit to Iraq and Iran and Armenia. He has undertaken an improbable overland journey to the ancient city of Timbuktu, an enlightening look into efforts to preserve the city’s priceless manuscripts and historical artifacts. Now he has traversed the notorious Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, a location so remote that some call it “the last wild place on earth.”

The track is a narrow, sixty-mile footpath over rough jungle terrain and more than six thousand feet in elevation change, amid punishing weather extremes. It’s home to indigenous Papua peoples, who live among the rusting reminders of the Japanese, Australian, and American armies that clashed in some of the deadliest protracted combat of World War II. Antonson undertook the journey in the company of a mixed band of resolute adventurers, and their own personal experiences provided some unexpected moments on the trail.

In Walking With Ghosts in Papua New Guinea, Antonson brings to life a journey of physical and mental endurance in his signature fashion, blending fascinating historical context with the trials and tribulations of unexpected discoveries in faraway lands.

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Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark
An Odyssey to Mount Ararat and Beyond

Mount Ararat is the most fabled mountain in the world. For millennia this massif in eastern Turkey has been rumored to be the resting place of Noah ’s Ark following the Great Flood. But it also plays a significant role in the long-standing conflict between Turkey and Armenia.

Author Rick Antonson joined a five-member expedition to the mountain’s nearly 17,000-foot summit, trekking alongside a contingent of Armenians, for whom Mount Ararat is the stolen symbol of their country. Antonson mixes vivid historical anecdote with unexpected travel vignettes, whether tracing earlier mountaineering at- tempts on the peak, recounting the genocide of Armenians and its unresolved de- bate, or depicting the Kurds’ nationalist ambitions for their own borders, which some say should include Mount Ararat.

What unfolds in Full Moon over Noah’s Ark is one man’s odyssey, a tale told through many stories. Starting with the flooding of the Black Sea in 5600 BCE, through to the Epic of Gilgamesh and the contrasting narratives of the Great Flood known to fol- lowers of the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic religions, Full Moon over Noah’s Ark takes readers along with Antonson through the shadows and broad landscapes of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Armenia, shedding light on a troubled but fascinating area of the world.

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“It’s not just about the journey, or standard travel writing. It’s about story- telling, and Rick takes us on a magical, almost mystical adventure to destinations once only shrouded in mythology.”
Peter Greenburg, travel editor, CBS News

“A book filled with the enthusiasm of discovery, the delight in accomplishment, and the relief of return.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Packed with historical facts and anecdotes, enhanced by excellent maps and photos, this is a fascinating travel adventure to one of the most ancient areas of the world . . . A reader’s feast that is not to be missed.”
John A. Cherrington, author of Walking to Camelot

“This is one of those rare books, full of emotion and insight, the work of a true traveler.”
Dina Bennett, author of Peking to Paris

“An educational, amusing and inspiring tale told by an experienced and worldly traveler . . . a fabulous weaving of adventure and research.”
Shannon Stowell, president of Adventure Travel Trade Association


To Timbuktu for a Haircut:
A Journey Through West Africa

Publication Date: May 2008

Timbuktu is the legendary African city known as a land of scholars, splendour, mystery, and a golden age in the Sahara Desert. But in the present day it is little more than a vaguely recognizable name - a flippant reference to "the most remote place on earth." With this fabled city as his goal, author Rick Antonson began a month-long trek. The initial plan? To get a haircut.

Aided by an adventuresome spirit, Rick endures a forty-five-hour train ride, a swindling travel agent, "third world, three-lane" roads, rivers, and a flat deck ferry boat before finally reaching Timbuktu. Rick narrates the history of this elusive destination through the teachings of his Malian guide, Zak, while also coming face-to-face with its modern-day realities: a city gripped by poverty, where historic manuscripts and treasures lie close to the sands of destruction. Both a travelogue and a history of a place long forgotten, To Timbuktu for a Haircut emerges as a plea to preserve the past and open the cultural dialogues on a global scale.

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Route 66 Still Kicks:
Driving America's Main Street

Publication Date: June 2012

Route 66 Still Kicks is an exhilarating, heartbreaking drive down a forgotten road through unknown America. Antonson and his travel nemesis, the inscrutable Peter, patiently journey 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles through eight states seeking -- and finding -- all the old parts that remain of Route 66.

This travelogue blends surprising vignettes with obscure stories about Route 66: related personalities, among them Al Capone, the Harvey Girls, Salvador Dali, Mickey Mantle, 1930s photojournalist Dorothea Lange, Cyrus Avery (the Father of Route 66), and songster Bobby Troup "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66."

Antonson's fresh perspective on the route's harsh history, its ebb and flow of popularity and viability, along with America's economic and social upheavals, underpaints a canvas of stories about the road's rise to fame, its segmenting by superhighways, and its fall from grace with the gazetteers -- and Route 66's entrenchment in legend.

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