Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Travels with a Tangerine: From Morocco to Turkey in the Footsteps of Islam's Greatest Traveler” as Want to Read:
Travels with a Tangerine: From Morocco to Turkey in the Footsteps of Islam's Greatest Traveler
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Travels with a Tangerine: From Morocco to Turkey in the Footsteps of Islam's Greatest Traveler

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  618 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
In 1325, the great Arab traveler Ibn Battutah set out from his native Tangier in North Africa on pilgrimage to Mecca. By the time he returned nearly thirty years later, he had seen most of the known world, covering three times the distance allegedly traveled by the great Venetian explorer Marco Polo—some 75,000 miles in all.

Captivated by Ibn Battutah’s account of his jour
...more
Paperback, 351 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Travels with a Tangerine, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Travels with a Tangerine

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,975)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sovotchka
This is going to be a really objective review.
The book is about an intelligent and witty Englishman who travels through the Middle East in the footsteps of a great Islamic travel writer.
Alright, so I lied. I would have given five stars without reading a single page. But I did read it, and I discovered some other reasons for doing so :).

Tim Mackintosh-Smith starts out from Ibn Battutah's underwhelming tomb in Tangiers, Morocco, and journeys through Egypt, Syria, Oman, Turkey and the Crimea. Ibn B
...more
Martine
The first thing many people ask me when they hear I'm writing a fantasy novel is whether I, with all my travelling experience, shouldn't be writing a travel book instead. I used to wonder about that myself, but every time I consider it, I inevitably come across a real travel writer, someone who has an interesting angle, has thoroughly researched the places he is visiting and is always willing to do something outrageous if it will result in a good story -- things I might not necessarily be willin ...more
Kelly Shannon
Dec 15, 2008 Kelly Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books! It's not for everyone, but I loved Mackintosh-Smith's fascinating account of his attempt to follow the travels of the 14th century Muslim traveler and explorer Ibn Battutah. Battutah traveled widely in and beyond the Middle East, but Mackintosh-Smith, a Brit living in Yemen, sticks to the Arabic speaking world. His knowledge of culture, Arabic and the obscurities of the English language (he even came up with a word his editor didn't know) makes for a wonderful read.
tea_for_two
Jul 29, 2012 tea_for_two rated it it was ok
Travels with a Tangerine, Tim Mackintosh-Smith's account of retracing Ibn Battutah's 14th century pilgrimage to Mecca, is a book that falls into the category of topics I love (travel/history writing, modern day recreations of famous voyages) but executions I dislike. I found Mackintosh-Smith's writing overly pedantic and dense. I don't know much about 14th century Arabic history and spent much of the book wishing that Mackintosh-Smith had provided more of a historical overview. Mackintosh-Smith ...more
Fiona
I haven't finished reading this book. I'm two thirds of the way through and I need a break. It's an interesting journey, the premise of which is the author following in Ibn Battutah's footsteps, but it is a bit self indulgent at times and there's too much emphasis on a mind-boggling number of saints' tombs. I'll put it back on the shelf and finish it in a few weeks' or months' time. It's probably 4 stars but I have to give it 3 because I'm wearying of it.
Fionnuala
What a misleading title! Nothing to do with comedy fruit smuggling, everything to do with the Arab&Islamic world's greatest traveler, a near contemporary of Marco Polo who actually went to the places he talks about. Tim M-S recreates the first leg of Ibn Battuta's voyages, and finds a surprising continuity between the fourteenth century and today. The best parts for me were the excerpts from IB's write-up of his travels. Tim M-S is an okay writer, but his experiences are pedestrian compared ...more
Inasirimavo
I am giving it three stars just because the subject Mackintosh-Smith is dealing with - Ibn Battutah and his travels - is quite fascinating and there's so much historical importance and intrigue to it.

In that regard - this book is important. But, oh my, it takes some nerves and patience to go through it. I don't think Mackintosh-Smith executed this well, the book could be much more interesting, vivid, playful, funny, challenging - you name it.

There was so much potential in this and I really wish
...more
Michael Meadows
May 06, 2013 Michael Meadows rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
A fascinating account of a traveller I'd never even heard of before, the seemingly indefatigable Ibn Battutah, a 14th century Moroccan who spent 30 years exploring huge swathes of the world. From eastern Europe in the west all the way across to South East Asia, (and most places in between), Ibn Battutah apparently covered three times as much ground as his much more famous near-contemporary, Marco Polo. The author, Tim Mackintosh-Smith, sets out to follow in his footsteps, (for the first leg of t ...more
Woodge
Sep 20, 2012 Woodge rated it did not like it
The relatively unknown Ibn Battutah (1304-1368) grew up in Tangier, Morocco. At the age of 21, he embarked on a journey throughout the Middle and Far East for almost 30 years. The author, a British man who has lived in Yemen for 17 years and is fluent in Arabic undertakes a journey that will be about a third of Ibn Battutah's.

I used to read a lot more travelogues and I've really enjoyed them. Not this one, though. In fact I'm surprised I got as far as I did with this one (more than half-way). T
...more
Hans
Feb 24, 2014 Hans rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging travel memoir through the Middle and Near East (and Middle and Modern Ages) that unfortunately never quite comes together. Despite promising ingredients, fascinating experiences and exhaustive historical references, something about it never quite landed for me. The book stands on its own, but the narrative never entirely gels, and one suspects that Mackintosh-Smith has had his mind too much on the rest of his Battutah trilogy to make this part of it work properly.
Sally Tarbox
Jun 19, 2016 Sally Tarbox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
"Inverse archaeology", 19 Jun. 2016

This review is from: Travels with a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah (Paperback)
This book had been sitting on my 'to read' shelf for a couple of years: I didn't think it would be particularly interesting.
When I determinedly sat down to read it, I realised what I'd been missing as this is travel writing at its absolutely superb best. In it the author - an Arabist and longterm Yemeni resident - seeks to follow the travels of 14th century Mor
...more
Kim D
Oct 23, 2011 Kim D rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Not quite the engaging travelogue the flyleaf led me to believe...

Our author decides to trace the footsteps of an ancient Moroccon's global travels throughout Africa, Middle East, India, and Orient. The travel stories are mixed with quite a bit of history and detail about architecture, but I could have used more entertaining anecdotes, sidebars on cultural/interpretive differences, explanations about religions, etc.
Phredric
Apr 16, 2015 Phredric rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Hmm - has been on my reading list for years and I've heard great things about it but it hasn't grabbed me yet. There are some amusing anecdotes but I'm finding it too academic and unfocused, so putting it away, until I'm in the mood to give it another go.
Beth
Nov 13, 2007 Beth rated it it was amazing
Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Macintosh-Smith is a slow read, but one that I savored. It is a travel book that describes the wonders of travel by following the footsteps of the fourteenth century pilgrim, Ibn Battutah who had “the specific sense of [the]mystical,[and]transcendental” (114). I like when an author introduces new ideas, images, places, and vocabulary in the rich context of history. The lush text reads with a sensual and conversational intimacy. Some of his expressions are new to m ...more
Colleen Clark
Apr 05, 2013 Colleen Clark rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, middle-east
I bought this book several years ago; finally this was the year to read it.

It took me several months - reading other books in between. It's not a standard travel book by any means. It's written in an episodic and discursive style where there's no compelling narrative to demand continual attention start to finish.

Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier (hence Tangerine - who knew?) in 1304. He left on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1325 and didn't return home until 1349 having travelled far and wide, including
...more
Carolyn
Apparently if you do not exist in a world oblivious to 90% of history like I do, you would know that Ibn Battutah is not only as famous as Marco Polo in the Arab world, but actually traveled a lot MORE than Polo. So MacKintosh-Smith gets the nutty idea to try and retrace his steps on a meandering trip from Tangiers to Mecca. It took me a while to get into this book, I'm not sure why. It took me forever to read the first few chapters. But eventually I succumbed and then it sped along. This book e ...more
Michael
Aug 24, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took a while (perhaps more than 50 pages) for me to get into reading this - I put it aside several times for long periods before I was fully engaged.

The book describes the author's trip that traces the travels of a 14th century Islamic traveler across North Africa and the Middle East as well as up into the former Soviet Union (Ukraine, primarily) and Turkey.

I'm not entirely sure what I found so engaging about this book - I certainly didn't learn anything in a useful sense; while I was readin
...more
Geoff P Brierley
This is a book which opens up two worlds simultaneously.
First, the world of the writer and his travels, Tim Mackintosh Smith and secondly Ibn Battutah.

I found the book to deliver on what it promised and it did so in a way that had suffucient depth to keep the reader interested but not to slow progress to a degree which stiffled the story.

The author opens up places that are new to many people and explores them with Ibn Battutah in mind, allowing a historical perspective to be gained.

Well wort
...more
Trina
Jul 05, 2016 Trina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't actually finish this book, but it's quite a fascinating travelogue. Mackintosh-Smith is a Brit who lives in Yemen, and he is writing about a 14th century man from Tangiers (the Tangerine of the story) who travels all over the Muslim mideast and Asia including Delhi and into China. Mack.-Smith is an engaging writer, is fascinated by the Muslim world and speaks and reads Arabic, in spite of being an obvious outsider. His adventures in traveling I.B.'s route are nearly as interesting as I. ...more
Sara Salem
Worst book ever.
Mason
This is the travelogue of an amazing trip trip through the glittering cities and aromatic backwaters of the Arab world. Actually, it is two such travelogues. Taking inspiration from a fourteenth century, Moroccan traveler's diary, Mackintosh-Smith approximates the same voyage almost six hundred years later. The author does occasionally get tangled in the tangential, but at root this is a heartfelt recounting of a world that has endured dramatic change yet remains true to its core belief in the r ...more
Rasha Yousif
Dec 31, 2013 Rasha Yousif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has travelled with me to different countries as it took me months to finish it; I also travelled with the book’s journey following Ibn Battutah’s footsteps. It was a slow start specially the Morocco part I don’t know why it was so hard for me to relate. But when Tim started his journey through Egypt, Syria & Oman I was totally hooked. I learned a lot from this book and it inspired me to dig more into history. I loved how the author kept Ibn Battutah’s quotes at the beginning of cha ...more
Ciaobella
Aug 09, 2013 Ciaobella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a magnificent voyage across time and cultures! I first read this book in 2004 and heartily enjoyed it. Perusing my shelves for a fun holiday read, I picked it up again, thoroughly entertained again. I treasure his witty language, his dry sense of humor and his expansive coverage of Ibn Battutah's other Arab writers'work. If only every Westerner read this book, there would be a much better understanding of North Africa and the Middle East from an Arab and Muslim perspective.
Elizabeth
Dec 13, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-travel
Loved this book. He retraced the steps of the ancient Arab traveler Ibn Battutah and like most books, went to places I would love to go to. A destination was Oman and I read this book while we lived there. He also stopped in Egypt and Turkey, and has many similar experiences as we did. His interactions and historical explanations were all fascinating and this is a must read for anyone interested in traveling in the Middle East or its history and culture.
Stuart
Apr 29, 2008 Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've re-read this book multiple times. Another Brit with an exquisite eye. Fluent in arabic, lived in the Yemen for almost 20 years, decided to follow the best known arab traveler around the middle east. He's up close and personal with people, with food, with history and with architecture. Writes like he reads the stuff he writes before it hits print. In fact I have purchased multiple copies to give to friends.
Margaret
Dec 19, 2008 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smashing. great language, and zeros in on the complexities of the countries in which he travels. Dead-on description of new Omani architecture. Brings out stories and subtexts, and carries out a seemingly impossible project: finding a centuries old traveler in the contemporary world. There is a sub text to t m-s that is intriguing, living in the gulf.
Holly S. Warah
Essentially a long string of travel anecdotes about the author and Ibn Battuta, all woven together. Mackintosh-Smith is truly obsessed with Ibn Battuta, or IB, as he refers to him. The memoir has a witty, literary tone, yet in the end, it was hard to maintain my interest level, as I am not obsessed with IB. I finished the book, but was never hooked.
Safiya Florence
An interesting attempt to follow Ibn Battutta's footsteps in the Gulf by well travelled Mackintosh-Smith. The author cleverly intertwines his own experience and descriptions with those of "IB", but I found it at times slow and somewhat artificial - maybe lacking in feelings and awe for the people and the landscape...
Denise
Aug 31, 2014 Denise rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really surprised this has such good ratings. I'm about halfway through, and I think I'm giving up. The author is a horrible bore who spends more time comparing other authors' accounts of a historical traveler than he spends talking about any of the places. It's just not engaging.
Chris
Mar 27, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fun book where a British man living in Yemen and obsessed with Arabic decides to retrace the footsteps of Ibn Battuta, and finds remarkable similarities despite hundreds of years difference between now and then. For anyone who likes traveling, you'll lose yourself in this book!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 65 66 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut
  • From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East
  • The Marsh Arabs
  • The Road to Oxiana
  • The Travels of Ibn Battutah
  • Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea
  • Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus
  • The Carpet Wars: From Kabul to Baghdad: A Ten-Year Journey Along Ancient Trade Routes
  • Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China
  • To the Holy Shrines (Penguin Great Journeys)
  • Slowly Down the Ganges
  • Let Our Fame Be Great: Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus
  • Angry Wind: Through Muslim Black Africa by Truck, Bus, Boat, and Camel
  • Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran
  • Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey
  • The Riddle and the Knight: In Search of Sir John Mandeville, the World's Greatest Traveler
  • On Foot to the Golden Horn: A Walk to Istanbul
  • In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams

Share This Book



“For puritans of whatever faith, God is in the detail.” 2 likes
“In fact, meta- and particle physicists have more in common than one might suppose: both tug, if in slightly different directions, at the knots which hold the cosmos together, both look beyond the immediate world of sense perception into one where cause can only be deduced from effect - a quark is as invisible as an angel; both are confronted by Manichaean polarities - miracles and black magic, cheap energy versus total destruction.” 1 likes
More quotes…