Two nights ago I read in a single sitting a book that’s been on my to-read list for over 20 years, and that for various reasons I always left behind when going to the bookstore. It is called Il Cammello Battriano (The Bactrian Camel), and was written by Italian journalist Stefano Malatesta.
It is the chronicle of a fascination for the Silk Road, and of a trip along the road in the company of old books by and about explorers and adventurers and what not. I guess you can see why I liked it.
It is a very thin book (160 pages) which explains why it became a bestseller – and by this I do not mean to shortcharge mister Malatesta, who is a fine writer that spins an excellent yarn, but for a fact the Italian Top Ten book list used to host books under the 200-pages (names like Baricco or Tamaro come to mind).
Considering the number of books I have read about the Silk Road, reading Malatesta felt like walking the same road again, in the company of a different companion, and yet not only does the author provide a different, personal take on the travel experience and the places visited, but he quotes from a few books and authors that I have so far missed.
Which of course prompted me to go on the Internet Archive, and check a few names.
From Malatesta I discovered European Adventurers of Northern India, 1785 to 1849, that was published in 1929 and does exactly what it says on the cover, and through Grey I came to Herbert Compton, that in 1893 published the essential A Particular Account Of The European Military Adventurers Of Hindustan.
And it’s in the Internet Archive copy of the latter that I find this is in fact a book in a series, The Adventure Series… and there’s a catalog!
- Adventures of a Younger Son. By E. J, Trelawney.
- Robert Drury’s Journal in Madagascar.
- Memoirs of the Extraordinary Military Career of John Shipp.
- The Adventures of Thomas Pellow, of Pemryn, Mariner.
- The Buccaneers and Marooners of America.
- The Log of a Jack Tar; or, The Life of James Choyce. With O’Brien’s Captivity in France.
- The Voyages and Adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto.
- The Story of the Filibusters.
- A Master Mariner. The Life and Adventurea of Captain R. W. Eastwick.
- Kolokotrones, Klepht and Warrior.
- Hard Life in the Colonies.
- The Escapes of Casanova and Latude from Prison.
- The Adventures of a Blockade Runner ; or, Trade in Time of War.
- Missing Friends. Being the Adventures of a Danish Emigrant in Queensland (1871-1880),
- The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth (Mountaineer and Scout).
- The Memoirs and Travels of Count de Benyowsky.
… which of course means more long hours spent browsing the Internet Archive and downloading files, and then long hours spent reading and finally, maybe, a short essay, or a pamphlet, or a few stories…