In Russia’s far east, meeting a person alone in the wilderness is usually a bad thing. Some recluses in this remote region might be criminals of one kind or another: those hiding from law enforcement or those hiding from other criminals. But when conservationist Jonathan C Slaght ran into a man with “a crazy look in his eyes” and one missing finger living alone in an abandoned World War II hydroelectric station, rather than make a quick exit, he took the hermit up on his offer to spend the night.

Pin Ups, Yi Shun Lai (Homebound Publications, September 2020)
Pin Ups, Yi Shun Lai (Homebound Publications, September 2020)

Pin Ups is a memoir about Yi Shun Lai’s long, ragged relationship with outdoor sports. Along the way, she discovers what it means to find a place for herself in the great outdoors—and what the act of carving out a place of her own taught her about tokenism, women’s leadership, and representation in a white world.

Quagmire in Civil War, by Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (Cambridge University press, February 2020)
Quagmire in Civil War, by Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (Cambridge University Press, February 2020)

Our understanding of civil war is shot through with the spectre of quagmire, a situation that traps belligerents, compounding and entrenching war’s dangers. Despite the subject’s importance, its causes are obscure. A pervasive “folk” notion that quagmire is intrinsic to certain countries or wars has foreclosed inquiry, and scholarship has failed to identify quagmire as an object of study in its own right.

The ‘Other’ Shangri-la: Journeys through the Sino-Tibetan frontier in Sichuan, Shivaji Das (Kornark Publishers, July 2020)
The ‘Other’ Shangri-la: Journeys through the Sino-Tibetan frontier in Sichuan, Shivaji Das (Konark Publishers, July 2020)

The ‘Other’ Shangri-La is a work of narrative non-fiction based on Shivaji Das and his wife’s journey through the Sino-Tibetan frontier land of western Sichuan. It describes the rugged landscape of this region that comprises 7,000-metre-high mountains, deep gorges, vast grasslands and the world’s most dangerous roads.

Just around the corner from Rome’s Pantheon, on the Via di Sant’Ignazio, is the famed Biblioteca Casanatense. Among its precious  books and manuscripts is an album of 76 striking watercolours made  in Goa around 1540, the work of an anonymous Indian painter for an unknown Portuguese patron.