Thursday, August 23, 2012
The Sultan's Organ, by John Mole
John Mole noticed my personal and professional interest in Islamic history and sent me a most interesting book, The Sultan's Organ, a book that is not salacious in the least, concerns an Englishman, Thomas Dallam, who around 1600 transported a gift from Queen Elizabeth and a number of her merchants trading with Turkey to the Ottoman Sultan: a massive organ that not only played music but was festooned with mechanical figures.
It's a good read.
I've often thought from other reading that through most of history has been little difference between a sailor and a pirate. This account clearly confirms that impression with regard to the Elizabethan era.
There is also some really down to earth description of the daily life of a traveler: the search for provisions on an infertile Mediterranean island that results in the searchers finding only some garlic for sale – garlic that their fellow travelers are very interested in acquiring once they hear of it;. or the amazing story of how these English travelers, spending the night in an abandoned house, almost scare themselves to death because they mistake a loose garter for an attacking snake.
John Mole has written a number of other books, which can be acquired on his website here. One that appeals to me is his story of being "a potato oligarch in the new Russia." You can read the first page here and see why I am considering following up.