My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“I feel something profound in places where tangible history survives to the present, as if by touching the walls I can transport myself across time,” writes Kirk W. Robinson in Hiking Through History. Primarily an outdoorsman and natural historian, Robinson is no “if it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium” sort of tourist. He prefers a slower pace, on his own and on a tight budget. I picked up his travel journal because of my interest in Joan of Arc. I also enjoyed reading about his treks through Hannibal’s Alps and Robert the Bruce’s Scottish Highlands, but his chapters on Joan and France are the ones that shine. Robinson quite literally follows in Joan’s footsteps on her quest to make France victorious in the Hundred Years War with England, and to put Charles VII firmly on the throne. Starting in her birthplace, Domremy, he traces her journey to Chinon, Reims, Orleans, and Rouen. The countless biographers of “La Pucelle” have done so in more detail, but Robinson’s account stands out in its ability to make Joan and her struggles real, to convey a real sense of the astounding courage and influence that this 18 year old peasant girl achieved.
We need more writers who can make history come alive so vividly that you wish you’d been there. This guy truly does know how to connect.