hidden europe 68

Winter reading

by Nicky Gardner


Discover three fine books for winter reading. We delve into the first English-language biography of Joseph Roth, find Iain’s Bamforth new collection of essays is full of zest and follow Vitali Vitaliev on a romp across and along some of the world’s most curious borders.

We have never carried book reviews as such in hidden europe. More accurately, we should say that insofar as we have carried book reviews at all, those reviews have generally been of titles published long before any of us were born. There’s still a lot of mileage in 19th-century Baedeker guides, as we showed in issue 62 of the magazine when we carried a very detailed review of two guidebooks to Switzerland, published respectively in 1881 and 1905.

Yet it will be no surprise to readers to hear that a feast of interesting books cross our desks between each issue of the magazine. Hot off the press is Vitali Vitaliev’s Atlas of Geographical Curiosities (published by Jonglez in October 2022, 244pp). It’s a brilliant romp through oddball fragments of political geography around the world, of which about three dozen are in Europe. These are almost without exception places we have covered in the pages of hidden europe over the years, but what’s so engaging about Vitali’s book is that these, with dozens of examples from other continents, are brought together in one place. From the Caprivi Strip to the Saimaa Canal, from the Saatse Boot to Guantanamo Bay, this is the ultimate guide to exclaves, enclaves and curious borders.

Related articleFull text online

Where God grew stones: a Mani odyssey

Patrick Leigh Fermor's 1958 book on the Mani region of southern Greece helped put Mani on the map. Today it pulls the tourist crowds, yet it still retains a raw appeal. Guest contributor Duncan JD Smith dives deep into Mani to explore the otherworldly landscapes of this arid peninsula.