“Shedding the world like a feather from the tip of a tilted wing…” (Wanderlust 3)

The title of this post comes from “Silver Ships,” whose author, Mildred Plew Meigs, lived 1892-1944. Since the copyright status isn’t clear, I won’t paste the poem here: instead, I’m sending you off to the website of the 100th Bomb Group Foundation, which seems to have it it on their site because Meigs sent it to one of their members.

“Born with Wings”

Thanks to Bryan Larsen, one of my favorite contemporary painters, for permission to include this wonderful painting of a  woman who clearly knows all about “floating down like a petal, / roaring up like a flame.”

Bryan Larsen, Born with Wings, copyright (c) 2006. Photo: http://cordair.com/artists/larsen/works/born-with-wings/index.html

Bryan Larsen, Born with Wings, copyright (c) 2006. Photo: courtesy Cordair Fine Art.  http://cordair.com/artists/larsen/works/born-with-wings/index.html

Not silver, but spectacular

WrightOrville Dayton1905 LC00659v

Orville Wright flying over Dayton, Ohio, in 1905. Photo: Library of Congress.  This was taken barely two years after the Wrights’ first powered flight. Excellent recent book: McCullough’s The Wright Brothers.

Travel books to quench (or whet) your Wanderlust


GOLD, Herbert. The Best Nightmare on Earth: A Life in Haiti. Somewhat meandering and now and then repetitious, but good for getting a feel for the country to 1990. I read this when I was writing a report on Haiti back in 1994, when the U.S. sent troops there.


  • Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia. Horwitz, a freelance journalist with a thoroughly Western outlook, traveled to the Middle East in the 1990s and produced an informative, well written, and lively set of essays on Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Libya, the Sudan and Lebanon. Focusing on culture, he nevertheless displays an unusual ability to select details that illuminate politics and economics.
  • One for the Road: An Outback Adventure. Horwitz travels 7,000 miles across the Australian outback.
  • Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War. A ten-state tour from Gettysburg to Vicksburg, and Charleston to Tennessee, looking at Civil War sites and Southerners’ devotion to the Lost Cause. Horwitz is not only witty but, as in Baghdad without a Map, picks details that make his stories come alive.

HULER, Scott. No-Man’s Lands. Retracing the steps of Odysseus.

HUNT, Christopher. Waiting for Fidel. Hunt traveled across Cuba talking with anyone who was willing about Fidel, jobs, food, clothing, transportation, etc. He constantly juxtaposes socialist propaganda, painted all over Cuba and mouthed by some of those he met, with the typical Cuban’s struggle just to survive – which often includes prostitution, black-market trading, and theft. By the end of the book it’s quite clear that Castro and his socialist policies are to blame for Cuba’s horrendous condition, but most of the argument for that position is made by the concretes Hunt presents, rather than by explicit political-philosophic commentary. I can’t remember when I’ve seen this technique done so well.

HUNTFORD, Roland. The Last Place on Earth.
Gripping account of the race between Amundsen and Scott to reach the South Pole.

MAYLE, Peter.

McCULLOUGH, David. The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. Another great read from McCullough. From the publisher’s blurb: “Between 1830 and 1900, hundreds of Americans–many of them future household names like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain, Samuel Morse, and Harriet Beecher Stowe–migrated to Paris. McCullough shows first how the City of Light affected each of them in turn, and how they helped shape American art, medicine, writing, science, and politics in profound ways when they came back to the United States.”

O’ROURKE, P.J. Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World’s Worst Places and Asks, “What’s Funny About This?” P.J.’s acerbic comments on Lebanon, Seoul, Panama, Warsaw, the Philippines, El Salvador, South Africa, Nicaragua, Mexico, Jerusalem, Harvard, Disney World, the 1987 Reagan-Gorbachev Summit, and the America’s Cup.

PLATT, Polly.

ROGERS, Jim. Investment Biker: Around the World With Jim Rogers. Ideal for armchair travelers, economists and motorcycle fanatics; written by a predominantly capitalist occasional commentator on CNBC. In 1990-92 Rogers and his girlfriend traveled on motorcycles from Anchorage, Alaska to Cape Horn at the tip of South America, from Great Britain to Japan, and from Algiers to Capetown in South Africa, with a side trip to Australia and New Zealand. Rogers gives specific, fundamental details about the economic workings of the countries he visited, which makes up for occasional flaws in interpretation.

TRILLIN, Calvin. Travels With Alice. Trillin’s travels with his wife and daughters in Sicily, the South of France, Spain, the West Indies, and elsewhere; hilarious comments on people and cuisine.


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About Dianne L. Durante

I constantly seek out art that's inspiring, thought-provoking, skillfully executed, and/or beautiful so I can share it (in jargon-free language) with others who need and enjoy such art, but don't have time to search for it themselves. As an independent scholar, writer, and lecturer, I focus on art history and history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are three volumes on Alexander Hamilton, From Portraits to Puddles, Central Park: The Early Years, Innovators in Sculpture (a survey of 5,000 years of art in 2 hours), and videoguide apps by Guides Who Know. Click on the Books & Essays tab for a list of all books. For upcoming projects, see my Patreon page.

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