The Meander is a river so famously winding that its name has long since come to signify digression, an approach author Jeremy Seal makes the most of while traveling the length of the river alone by canoe. A natural storyteller, Seal takes readers from the Meander’s source in the uplands of central Turkey to its mouth on the Aegean Sea, with as many historical, cultural, and personal asides as there are bends in the river.
In a rapidly industrializing Turkey, the river itself has been largely forgotten, but the Meander was the original conduit by which the cultures of Europe and Asia first met, then clashed. The city at the river’s mouth, Miletus, was home to the earliest Western philosophers, while the one at its source, Dinar, commanded the mountain pass that carried the earliest roads east. All manner of legendary adventurers, soldiers, and visionaries passed through: the Persian king Xerxes, Alexander the Great, Saint Paul, and Crusader kings, to name just a few.
In the course of his travels, Seal meets any number of people eager to share stories with a stranger. This rich mix creates a portrait of extraordinary insight and sweep at a time when Turkey is busy rediscovering her historic significance. An enchanting blend of past and present, at once epic and intimate, Meander is an atmospheric, incident-rich, and free-flowing portrayal of the essential meeting point between East and West.