Since travel is limited these days I’ve been spending a lot of time reading books about travel.
The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz is not a travel book in the sense of a voluntary voyage, but it does fit into the category of Life and Death/Survival books. Captured as a spy by the Russians in 1941, he survived a train journey to Siberia that would have killed most people. He then proceeded to escape from the labor camp and travel thousands of miles on foot, through Siberia, the Gobi Desert, Tibet and over the Himalayas to India. It is up there with River of Doubt and Skeletons on the Zahara in terms of epic survival stories.
Labyrinth of Ice by Buddy Levy – this story of the Greely Expedition to the north pole is the the best I have found. It covers the voyage, what went wrong, the attempted rescues and the politics behind them. The book makes the case that he was saved by his wife, writing letters and using her political connections to move the U.S bureaucracy to mount a second rescue mission.
The Improbable Voyage by Tristan Jones – this story is about Jones trip down the Rhine and Danube Rivers in a trimaran. At this point in his life he has lost part of a leg and one of his stated reasons for the trip is to increase awareness of disabilities. Of course he also wants to be the first ocean vessel to accomplish the feat of taking an ocean vessel from the North Sea to the Black Sea. I added his book The Impossible Voyage to my list of recommended travel books several months ago. This one does not seem up to that level, but is definitely worth reading.