Sara Wheeler

Iceland is bursting with cabinets of curiosities

18 July 2020 9:00 am

Competition is stiff among museums in Iceland. The Phallological Museum in Húsavík, devoted to the penis, stands tall in a…

Is it true that men navigate better than women?

29 February 2020 9:00 am

Some years ago I participated in a late-night Radio 3 show on exploration and travel. When I left the studio…

The exotic Silk Road is now a highway to hell

30 November 2019 9:00 am

This engaging book describes the Norwegian author’s travels round the five Central Asian Stans — a region where toponyms still…

Whatever happened to glasnost and perestroika?

26 October 2019 9:00 am

This is a timely book. It addresses the challenges of a fractious and fractured Europe. The first word of the…

Gales and Gaels — sailing solo from Cornwall to the Summer Isles

28 September 2019 9:00 am

This is the story of a solo voyage in a 31ft- wooden sailing boat called Tsambika. Philip Marsden pilots his…

The North Pole, from the star atlas of the French Jesuit priest and scientist, Ignace-Gaston Pardies, published in 1674

The unearthly powers of the North Pole

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Having spent too much of my life at both poles (writing, not sledge-pulling), I know the spells those places cast.…

Andrei Navrozov.

The gambler and the hooker: Awful Beauty, by Andrei Navrozov, reviewed

8 December 2018 9:00 am

This book — the title is from Pasternak —is billed as ‘literary fiction’. The narrator, a Russian gambler and drinker…

Sickness strikes in the clifftop monasteries of Meteora, and Stagg leaves the pilgrimage route

Staggering to Jerusalem — a journey from darkness into light

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Guy Stagg walked 5,500 km from Canterbury to Jerusalem, following medieval pilgrim paths, and he records the expedition in The…

Was there ever anything romantic about the Romany life?

9 June 2018 9:00 am

Damian Le Bas is of Gypsy stock (he insists on the upper case throughout his book). His beloved great-grandmother told…

Doris Lessing in her mid sixties

Doris Lessing: from champion of free love to frump with a bun

10 March 2018 9:00 am

‘I am interested only in stretching myself, in living as fully as I can.’ Lara Feigel begins her thoughtful book…

What makes this Bhutanese schoolgirl happy?

What makes a semi-police state happy?

16 December 2017 9:00 am

This charming collection of individual photographic portraits of Bhutanese citizens intentionally highlights the two central features of the kingdom today:…

Horatio Clare breaks the ice with the taciturn Finns

18 November 2017 9:00 am

In this slim travel book Horatio Clare voyages as a guest on the Finnish icebreaker Otso (Bear), ‘mostly in darkness,…

For fashionable Victorian travellers, the only way was Norway

4 June 2016 9:00 am

‘The only use of a gentleman in travelling,’ Emmeline Lowe wrote in 1857, ‘is to take care of the luggage.’…

Thin air and frayed tempers

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Born in New South Wales in 1888, George Finch climbed Mount Canobolas as a boy, unleashing, in the thin air,…

Graffiti outside the American University of Cairo reads ‘Revolution’ (December 2011)

The revolution that went up in smoke

22 August 2015 9:00 am

‘Every day’, writes the foreign correspondent Wendell Steavenson in this account of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, ‘see-sawed between joy and…

Rabdentse, near Pelling, the ruined former capital of Sikkim, with Mount Kanchenjunga in the distance

The story of Sikkim’s last king and queen reads like a fairy tale gone wrong

1 August 2015 9:00 am

Sikkim was a Himalayan kingdom a third of the size of Wales squeezed between China, India, Nepal and Bhutan. I…

‘Jeddah from the sea’— sketch by Thomas Machell in one of his journals

A Victorian sailor is the new love of my life

27 June 2015 9:00 am

Jenny Balfour Paul is an indigo dye expert. She has written two books on the subject, and lectures around the…

Dreaming of a golden future: there will always be people willing to sacrifice all in the pursuit of gold

11 April 2015 9:00 am

In 2008, the price of gold lofted above $1,000 an ounce for the first time in history, inspiring a rush…

The greatest American Arctic disaster

7 February 2015 9:00 am

In the course of the 19th century, various flotillas of expeditions hastened to the polar regions in little wooden ships…