Meander by Jeremy SealMy rating: Travel / History
It was only upon reading the blurb of this book that I learnt the word 'meander' originated with the winding path of the Meander (Menderes) river in Turkey. It naturally appealed to me that someone would take it upon himself to meander along the course of the Meander, from source to sea, so I was really excited to get my hands on it.
Interspersed with history ancient and modern, Seal's account of his journey also meanders quite slowly from beginning to end. At times I found the switch between canoe-paddling travelogue and detailed history book jarring, and I did have to read the book quite slowly to take it all in. Unfortunately, the current state of the Meander isn't really suited to canoeing, either, so for a lot of the trip he has no choice but to follow the river by walking along its banks instead - the early challenges of white water and fallen willows soon give way to the rather different problems of finding any water to float the boat.
I did enjoy learning more about Turkey, from Alexander the Great to more recent troubles with Greece and other neighbours, and it was lovely to hear about the friendly welcomes which Seal received all along the river. However, as the book was organised by geography rather than by time, the history was jumbled in a way that made it difficult to follow, and I don't feel I have a clear picture of exactly how the story unfolded. Considering the proportion of the narrative devoted to the history of the region, this is an unfortunate consequence.