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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

The Places in Between

Sometimes I stumble upon good travel books in other sections of the bookstore. For instance, I found A Course Called Ireland by Tom Coyne in the sports section. And when I find such gems, it seems like I discovered the X that marked the spot with a small bundle of treasure. That was the case when I found Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between in the history section at the store.

The Places in Between is about Rory Stewart’s 2002 walk across Afghanistan and the places and people he sees and meets in between, so to speak, Herat and Kabul. This route is the same Babur, the first Emperor of Mughal India and, at his death in the 1500s, the ruler of one of the largest and wealthiest empries ever. Stewart does this trek on his own – no easy thing mind you, especially considering the climate at the time – although is occasionally accompanied by soldiers, villagers, or a friend he buys along the way: Babur the dog.

Normally I don’t care for stories about traveling in a war-ravaged country. It seems like an idiotic thing to do and comes off as exploitive, despite any sort of best intentions to bring awareness to the plight. Yet I didn’t have this issue with Stewart and The Places in Between. Instead I really enjoyed his words and perspective on a country which had already been all over the news for several years by the time his story was published in 2004.

While I did appreciate The Places in Between, I was disappointed that Stewart did not discuss his other travels more in depth; Stewart had spent another six months walking across Iran, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. He occasionally touched on his time in these countries, like when he goes on a rant about how the people in each country aren’t nearly as hospitable as what they say – not always are you given a meal and a room in which to stay when you knock on a stranger’s door, as is so often said of travelers in such places. So instead of just flippantly mentioning those journeys, I wish he would have written about them and given the book a little more depth.

In the end I understood why The Places in Between was in the hsitory section of the store. After all, Stewart did have a run in with the Taliban, and he did do his walk from more of an historical perspective, so it all fits for both current events and history. But, and excuse me for a rant of my own, I just wish that stories like this would also be placed in the travel section. Then I could find them more easily and recommend them to anyone looking for a fascinating story – like this one – even if it is about traveling through a war zone.

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