Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Karavansara Free Library: 5 by Sir Aurel Stein

Aurel Stein was a man who obsessed about Alexander’s expedition in India, and as a consequence became the trailblazer in the rediscovery of the Silk Road at the turn of the 19th and 20th century.
Explorer, archaeologist, ethnographer, geographer, linguist, map-maker, Stein was born in Budapest in 1862 but later moved to England and became a citizen in 1904.
He was Sven Hedin‘s major competitor in the exploration of Central Asia and the Silk Route, and was probably also a spy in those areas in which British and Russians played the Great Game.
He discovered an unprecedented wealth of documents in Dunhuang (including the world’s oldest printed text), and also the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas.
He died in 1942, at the age of 80, and is buried in Kabul, Afghanistan.

His production of works was enormous – maps, photos, articles and books, the latter often aimed at the general public.

What follows is a very small selection found in the Internet Archive.

1904 – Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan

1912 – Ruins Of Desert Cathay

1929 – On Alexander Track To The Indus

1933 On Ancient Central Asian Tracks

1949 – Old Routes Of Western Iran

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Karavansara Free Library: 2+1 by Richard Halliburton

Something for the weekend.

Adventurer, world-traveler, daredevil, there was a time when Richard Halliburton was a household name, and families would sit around their radio to hear his tales of far-off lands and wild adventures.

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His books were popular too, and are now almost completely forgotten.
Which is a pity, because Richard Halliburton was good at telling a story.
In 1939, Halliburton – the man that had crossed the Alps riding an elephant – disappeared at sea while trying to cross the Pacific ocean in a Chinese junk.

Now, the Karavansara Free Library, as usual with the help of the Internet Archive, is here to offer a small selection of Halliburton’s intelligent, highly entertaining books.
A look into that strange world that was, not even one hundred years ago, in which the world was larger, and there was a lot to be seen (and told) for the first time.

1925 – The Royal Road To Romance

1927 – The Glorious Advanture

1940 – Richard Halliburton His Story Of His Life’s Adventure As Told In Letters To His Mother And FatherĀ 

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Karavansara Free Library: 7 books by Sven Hedin

sven hedinThe Karavansara Free Library does Sven Hedin, and it’s quite a feat.
A true explorers’ explorer, Hedin had a colossal output of writings, and he is certainly one of the essential authors when it comes to Central Asia and the Silk Road.
“Geographer, topographer, explorer, photographer, travel writer, and illustrator of his own works”, to quote Wikipedia, Hedin did more than anyone else for the exploration of Central Asia, and his accounts are a collection of sharp scientific observation, anecdotal narrative and adventure.
Sometimes more academical than the works of Rosita Forbes and Emily Hahn, Hedin’s books can sometimes sound a tiny little bit self-celebratory, but really, the man was all over Asia and really went where no man had gone before. Well, no European man at least.
Granted, he sometimes sounds like he was too much in love of his own myth, and certainly being chummy with Hitler (that was a fan of his) did not do any good for his post-war popularity, but in all fairness he soon found out what monsters he was being chummy with, and he did what he could to stop their madness.

“He was a pioneer and pathfinder in the transitional period to a century of specialized research. No other single person illuminated and represented unknown territories more extensively than he.”

The Internet Archive holds a wealth of his books, but here we will only list a few titles, let’s say Sven Hedin’s Essential Bookshelf. Continue reading