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Tom Bissell

Robert D Kaplan

Mediterranean winter

In Mediterranean winter: A Journey Through History , Robert D Kaplan tells of his experiences during travels round the Mediterranean in the 1970's.

The book was written after he revisited the region 20 years later, and he tell of some of the changes he saw, but most of the book doesn't deal with the second half of the 20th century, but with much earlier times. Kaplan tells of the battles of the Greeks, of the expansion of the Roman empire and the rise of Islam. He also tells of the experiences of other travellers in the area, such as Lord Byron, and of those more recent travellers who he met who had decided to stop travelling and settle down in the region.

Kaplan's journey starts from Marseilles and crosses to Tunisia, where we hear of the successes of Jugurtha against the Romans. In Sicily he tells of the disastrous campaign of the Athenian navy. Kaplan crosses Italy to get to Dalmatia an the story of medieval Dubrovnik (which was then known as Ragusa).

Sometimes I felt that journey was going too fast - Kaplan would move on from an area after only a short description. Mostly the book works well though - Kaplan's style of historical travel writing gives a book which is enjoyable to read as well as giving easy introduction to the history of this region.