It’s a rare treat to come across a newly published travel book of the traditional sort – the kind that used to be a fixture of the bookshop “travel” section until ten or fifteen years ago. I recently received a review copy of one such – Isambard Wilkinson’s Travels in a Dervish Cloak, about Pakistan – a country I have a particular fondness for, although I’ve long neglected it in favour of Indonesia.
I reviewed the book – which was officially published earlier this week – for the Asian Review of books:
Pakistan was once prime territory for Western travel writers. It offered an attractive combination of subcontinental color and Central Asian romance, plus a lively history and a hospitable population speaking excellent English. Geoffrey Moorhouse, Dervla Murphy and Wilfred Thesiger passed this way, among many others. In The Great Railway Bazaar, Paul Theroux even pondered the attractions of Peshawar as a place of retirement.
But since the launch of the “war on terror” in neighboring Afghanistan with subsequent instability in Pakistan itself, the bulk of the books about the country by foreigners have been made of sterner stuff: bleak journalistic or scholarly commentaries from the likes of Anatol Lieven and Owen Bennet-Jones.
This is what makes Isambard Wilkinson’s Travels in a Dervish Cloak such a welcome delight….
© Tim Hannigan 2017