Britain and Ireland: A Visual Tour of the Enchanted Isles

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9781426206276: Britain and Ireland: A Visual Tour of the Enchanted Isles

In 11 chapters, each geographic area comes alive through brisk historical narrative and lavish color photography, art, and maps.
 
Author Robin Currie details captivating legacies and guides us to sites where their mysteries can still be experienced: Hadrian's Wall, testament to why the Romans didn't occupy Scotland; the Arthurian legends found in medieval Welsh literature; Queen Elizabeth I and her rival Mary Stuart; centuries-old Kilkenny castle in Ireland; the Brontës, Daphne du Maurier, and the rich landscapes that inspired them. Meet the modern citizens of Britain and Ireland as well, and discover what life is like in the islands today. Throughout the book, quick travel tips and fun lists provide intriguing details about language origins, customs, and little-known lore. A complete index rounds out this ultimate reference. There's nothing like it on the market today.
 
Wide-ranging travel author Robin Currie begins with the rich history of the Enchanted Isles, discussing such topics as the compelling saga of London, the Viking roots of 1,000-year-old Dublin, and the shipbuilding heritage of Belfast, from whence the Titanic steamed into history. We take in the emerald vistas of Ireland, dappled with the passage tombs and ritual sites of the ancient Celts. The rugged hills of Scotland, where the Romans disparaged the inhabitants as Picts ("painted men") for the pigments they wore in battle. And the coasts and castles of Wales, where the ancient language is still very much alive.
 
These islands have seen much coming and going of peoples over the centuries, and that is no less true today. Get to know the modern inhabitants of the nations, whose faces speak louder than words about diversity of modern Britain and Ireland. Throughout the book, the photography has a special feel, going beyond the expected to bring out the real character of the lands and people. For readers inspired to visit these irresistible lands, Britain and Ireland delivers little-known secrets and insights that the practical travel guides don't, to help us experience the countries more richly and appreciate them more deeply. Quotations from a wide range of individuals describe their favorite sites or landmarks, and lists of superlatives within a particular region (best vistas, oldest pubs, most fascinating ruins) point out spots that the average tourist would never know existed.
 
Whether to learn, to visit, or simply to dream--National Geographic's Britain and Ireland provides readers with an incomparable tour.

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Review:

From Britain & Ireland
Click on the photos below to open larger images.

A Celtic cross stands against the evening sky on the Hebridean island of Iona. The monastery at Iona has long been a draw for pilgrims, past and present.
Photography by Jim Richardson
The image of Westminster Abbey reflects in the windshield of a London taxi. Experts on the capital’s road network, cabbies must all pass the Knowledge of London Examination System, commonly known as “the Knowledge.”
Photography by Annie Griffiths
The English countryside holds many pleasures. Horse and hounds were once a more common sight than they are now. Since the Hunting Act of 2004, fox hunting with dogs has been banned in England and Wales. The issue continues to be an extremely divisive one among the British public.
Photograph by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
For nearly a millennium, visitors have been traveling to Windsor Castle, which is the largest inhabited castle in the world. Although parts of it are usually open to the public, the castle may be closed for state visits and other occasions.
Photograph by James L. Stanfield

Book at the ready, an Oxford man lights up his pipe in one of the city’s pubs. Among the most famous of Oxford watering holes is the Eagle and Child, where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien often met.
Photograph by Mark Harris/Getty Images
Saint Govan’s Chapel hugs the coast of southern Pembrokeshire. The tiny, 13th-century chapel can only be accessed by climbing down 52 steps from the cliff top.
Photograph by Jim Richardson
The weather is never “far away” in the Scottish Highlands. Storm clouds gather over the Old Man of Storr, a basalt rock formation on the Isle of Skye. Sightseers can reach the spectacular landscape after a mile-long walk along a well-constructed path.
Photograph by Adam Burton/Photolibrary
Surf crashes against the Giant’s Causeway on the north Antrim coast. A tourist draw since Victorian times, the Causeway is one of the top attractions of Northern Ireland.
Photograph by Jim Richardson

About the Author:

Robin Currie co-authored National Geographic's Concise History of the World and has edited National Geographic Traveler guides on New York, Hawaii, South Africa, and Greece. His writing has been published by the Smithsonian, McGraw-Hill, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and America Online, where he was senior editor of the AOL homepage. His most recent book, The Letter and the Scroll: What Archaeology Tells Us About the Bible, co-authored with Stephen Hyslop, was published by National Geographic in 2009.

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