Category

Reviews

The Power of Geography

T

Geography limits us and defines our possibilities in fundamental ways.  A nation’s physical location — at a vital choke point, like the outlet of the Red Sea; commanding the waves on Europe’s northwest fringe; at the vulnerable end of the wide open North European Plain — does much to dictate its strengths and fears. As does its store of resources, and its location in relation to...

Political Fictions

P

I read a collection of long pieces written by Joan Didion in the 1990s called Political Fictions this week. It contained “the first of a number of pieces I eventually did about American politics,” she wrote in the Preface, “most of which had to do, I came to realize, with the ways in which the political process did not reflect but increasingly proceeded from a series of fables about American...

Time Among the Maya

T

“If Greek civilization explored the universe with geometry, the Maya did so with arithmetic and time.” This insight comes early in Ronald Wright’s Time Among the Maya, and it sets the stage for his journey through Belize , Guatemala, Chiapas and the Yucatán. Like the Mayan calendar, the narrative ranges through vast spans of time, from distant prehistoric beginnings to the heyday of powerful city...

The Best Books I Read in 2020

T

Do you have a book addiction? Well I’m here to make it worse. I love a good reading list like a hobo loves Aqua Velva. As the year comes to a close, and as dark Berlin huddles beneath a pandemic sky, I’d like to take a moment to share my top reads from the past twelve months. Each book made my list because it was memorable, important, or just thoroughly enjoyable. And each is worth your time. I...

Cynical Theories are tearing us apart

C

This new book by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay is essential reading for anyone struggling to make sense of the self-contradictory ‘woke’ ideology that’s spread divisive cancel culture like a mind virus through our workplaces, public policy and social lives. The authors have done an admirable job of tracing the development of these ideas, from the early insights of postmodern...

To The Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace

T

Kapka Kassabova is taking us back to the Balkans. I’ve been looking forward to something new from this wonderful writer since Border, which was my top travel read of 2018. That earlier book touched on the author’s childhood in Bulgaria, and To The Lake takes us deeper as she journeys to her grandmother’s place of origin in the mountainous Macedonian lake district. The region was once an important...

Cut Stones and Crossroads

C

Ronald Wright traveled Peru in the 1970’s and 80’s, fresh from university with a degree in archaeology, feeding an obsession with the Inca Empire sparked by a random adventure novel he’d read in his teens. He expected to spend his time wandering ruins, but the ancient world of the Andes was alive all around him in the Quechua still spoken by its people, through the handwoven clothing they...

Travels With Myself And Another

T

How did I live for 47 years without reading Martha Gellhorn? She’s best known in some circles for her brief wartime marriage to the writer Ernest Hemingway, much to her chagrin. But she is better known as a brilliant war correspondent and travel writer, though she wanted to be remembered as a novelist. She covered the Spanish Civil War, went ashore on the beaches of Normandy on June 7, 1944, and...

The Best Books I Read in 2019

T

It’s that time again. I typically read around 100 books a year. Everything from travel literature to poetry, history, psychology, fiction and memoir. I love reading lists, and I bet you do, too. As each year comes to a close, and as dark Berlin huddles beneath grey skies, I like to take a moment to share my top reads from the past twelve months. They made my list because they were either...

Will Europe End With Marching Boots — or Malaise?

W

Where were you when the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989? I was sitting in the back room of our old house watching music videos on TV. We didn’t have the specialty channels back then, but the cable company was running a free promo all week, and we could watch the movie channel and the music channel for free. I was 17 years old, and glued to MuchMusic — the Canadian version of MTV — when the...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

NEWSLETTER

Sign up for my entertaining email newsletter


Get in Touch

Donate

Support the Personal Landscapes podcast with a donation

Recent Posts

Archives

WP AutoTerms Legal Pages