Marco Polo Outstanding General Travel Themed Book of the Year

MARCO POLO
WINNER:
The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J Andersson & translated by Anna Holmwood

The story begins in a public square in New Delhi. On a cold December evening a young European woman of noble descent appears before an Indian street artist known locally as PK and asks him to paint her portrait - it is an encounter that will change their lives irrevocably.
 

PK was not born in the city. He grew up in a small remote village on the edge of the jungle in East India, and his childhood as an untouchable was one of crushing hardship. He was forced to sit outside the classroom during school, would watch classmates wash themselves if they came into contact with him, and had stones thrown at him when he approached the village temple. According to the priests, PK dirtied everything that was pure and holy. But had PK not been an untouchable, his life would have turned out very differently.
 

This is the remarkable true story of how love and courage led PK to overcome extreme poverty, caste prejudice and adversity - as well as a 7,000-mile, adventure-filled journey across continents and cultures - to be with the woman he loved.

Read an extract

SHORTLIST:
Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain's Food Culture by Matt Goulding

Take a journey through the delectable and sensuous culture and cuisine of Spain in this beautifully illustrated food-driven travel guide filled, with masterful narration, insider advice and nearly 200 full-colour photos.


Goulding introduces you to the sprawling culinary and geographical landscape of his adoptive home, and offers an intimate portrait of this multi-faceted country, its remarkable people and its complex history.
 

This book reveals hidden gems and enduring delicacies from across this extraordinary country, contextualising each meal with the stories behind the food in a cultural narrative complemented by stunning colour photography. Fall in love with Barcelona’s tiny tapas bars and modernist culinary temples. Delight in some of the world’s most innovative and avant-garde edible creations in San Sebastian, and then wash them down with cider from neighbouring Asturias. Sample the world’s finest acorn-fed ham in Salamanca, share in the traditions of cave-dwelling shepherds in the mountains beyond Granada, and debate what constitutes truly authentic paella in Valencia.

Whether you’ve visited Spain or have only dreamed of its tapas bars, Grape, Olive, Pig will wake your imagination, sharpen your appetite and capture your heart.

Island People: The Caribbean and the World by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

Clustered together in azure-blue waters are a collection of little islands whose culture, history and people have touched every corner of the world. From the moment Columbus gazed out at what he mistook for India, and wrote in his journal of ‘the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen,’ the Caribbean has been the subject of fantasies, myths and daydreams. It was claimed, and its societies were built to enrich old Europe, and much later its beaches were splashed across billboards advertising fizzy drinks, its towns and people pictured in holiday brochures.

But these islands are so much more than gloss, white sand and palm trees, they form a region rich in colour, beauty and strength. Home of the Rastafarian faith, Che Guevara’s stomping ground and birthplace of reggae, the Caribbean has produced some of the world’s most famous artists, activists, writers, musicians and sportsmen - from Usain Bolt to Bob Marley and from Harry Belafonte to V. S. Naipaul. In the pages of Island People we hear the voices of the Caribbean people, explore their home and learn what it means to them, and to the world.

In this fascinating and absorbing book, the product of almost a decade of travel and intense study, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro strips away the fantasy and myth to expose the real islands, and the real people, that make up the Caribbean.
 

Small Island by Little Train by Chris Arnot & AA Publishing

From stalwart little locomotives of topographic necessity, to the maverick engines of one man's whimsy, Britain's narrow-gauge steam trains run on tracks a world apart from its regimented mainlines.

In Small Island by Little Train, eccentricity enthusiast Chris Arnot sets out to discover their stories. Stories include miniature railway on the Kent coast, used for Home Guard military trains during World War II, and now the school commute for dozens of local school children. The UK's only Alpine-style rack-and-pinion railway, scaling one of Britain's highest mountains. The five different gauges of railway circling one man's landscaped garden, and the team building their own trains to run on it.

Far more than mere relics of the nation's industrial past, or battered veterans of wartime Britain, these are also stories of epic feats of preservation, volunteerism, tourism, and local history. They are an exploration of idiosyncrasy, enthusiasm and eccentricity. Or, to put it another way, a tale of Britishness.

Read an extract 

The Alps by Stephen O'Shea

The Alps have seen the march of armies, the flow of pilgrims and Crusaders, the feats of mountaineers and the dreams of engineers—and some 14 million people live among their peaks today.

In The Alps, Stephen O’Shea takes readers up and down these majestic mountains, journeying through their 500-mile arc across France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria and Slovenia. He explores the reality behind Hannibal’s crossing; he reveals how the Alps have influenced culture from Frankenstein to Heidi and The Sound of Music; and he visits the spot of Sherlock Holmes’s death scene, the bloody site of the Italians’ retreat in the First World War and Hitler’s notorious Eagle’s Nest.

Throughout, O’Shea records his adventures with the watch makers, salt miners, cable-car operators and yodelers who define the Alps today.

Read an extract

The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat

In The Hidden Ways, Alistair Moffat traverses the lost paths of Scotland. Down Roman roads tramped by armies, warpaths and pilgrim routes, drove roads and rail roads, turnpikes and sea roads, he traces the arteries through which our nation’s lifeblood has flowed in a bid to understand how our history has left its mark upon our landscape.

Moffat’s travels along the hidden ways reveal not only the searing beauty and magic of the Scottish landscape, but open up a different sort of history, a new way of understanding our past by walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. In retracing the forgotten paths, he charts a powerful, surprising and moving history of Scotland through the unremembered lives who have moved through it.

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© 2019 Edward Stanford Limited