Info about Kolby Kirk
Kolby Kirk, traveler
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Travel-Related Books

Below are a few of the men I admire and the travel books they have written. They have not only influenced history, but they have changed, ever so slightly, the course of my life.

Baedeker's Travel Guide Books

Karl Baedeker (1801-1859) began his own publishing business in Koblenz at the age of 26, specializing in guidebooks known for their historic information and attention to detail. Unlike other travel guidebooks of the time, Baedeker made it his obligaton to gather information personally by visiting the locations himself. His guides were the first of a series of travel guides that systematized tourist information and adopted a system of stars to classify amenities and attractions. Within his lifetime, he traveled throughout the world creating and updating travel books, but mainly concentrated on Europe.

Today, Baedeker Books is the oldest German-language travel guide publishing house in the world, publishing dozens of travel books and maps in six languages. The current business is run by his great-grandson, and has expanded to include automobile touring guides.

Baedeker Books, even the early ones from the turn of the century, can be found on the web. Try, and other bookseller sites.

Stoddard's Lectures

John L. Stoddard was one of the greatest American travelers of the late 19th centry. In 1898, his popular lectures were published in ten volumes each containing truthful, (somewhat) unbiased stories and hundreds of his photographs. Their popularity was so great, multiple printings were made (up into the 1920's) and sold by door-to-door salesmen as if they were encyclopedias. In a way, Stoddard's Lectures were an encyclopedic source of stories and images of coutries he visited, giving Americans a glimpse of the world beyond the oceans.

Stoddard's Lectures are now out-of-print but can be found on the web (,, to name a few) for quite a reasonable price considering their age.

The Burton Holmes Lectures

While traveling in Japan, Stoddard met a 22-year old American named Burton Holmes. Like Stoddard in his youth, Holmes was a passionate adventurer, traveling Europe and Asia and bringing back stories and photos to show those interested. He became a junior-associate of Stoddard and went on to bringing America his own lectures - one of the first to include "moving pictures."

By his retirement in 1951, at the age of 81, Holmes had traveled at least six times around the planet, delivered more than 8,000 lectures and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his films. The Burton Holmes Lectures, based on the slides and his narrations for them, were reorganized into a series of books, originally published in 1901 in ten volumes. In following years he added several more volumes and they remained in print under the name The Burton Holmes Travelogues. In the 1904 supplement, he coined the word "travelogue."

Since more than 40,000 copies of these sets were sold, it is still possible to locate one for yourself. Amazingly enough, Holmes' stories are still in print. Check out for more details.


A German friend sent me this book he found in his grandfather's attic assuming that I might find it interesting even though I do not read German.

He assumed right!

The book, published in 1930, is filled with photographs documenting an aerial journey around the Mediterranean - a feat never done before. The pilot and photographer is Walter Mittelholzer [1894-1937], the Swiss pioneer of aviation and aerial photography who went on to create the first Swiss airline - Swissair. Mittelholzer had many extraordinary "firsts" in his life: first transcontinental water flight expedition from Zurich to Cape Town. (1926/27), first to fly over Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest mountain, and first to take photographs of the Kibo crater at its peak (1930). Mittelholzer lived like Indiana Jones and spread knowledge of the world through his photographs. He died at the age of 43 doing what he loved to do the most: fly.

The Art of Pilgrimage

Simply put, Phil Cousineau's book helped inspire, define, and add meaning to my travels. Although he is a modern man currently living in San Francisco, his writings will help bring you back to a time when travel was a spiritual experience and was more than just a "getaway." I read The Art of Pilgrimage three times, once before I left for Europe, once while traveling through Europe, and once after returning home from Europe. Each reading brought incredible insight to me and my journey. Cousineau must have an impressive library filled with travel related books from around the world, for it is possible to not only read selective quotes of other writers in his book, but also read between the lines and see how passionate he is in all forms of The Journey.

I have since picked up one of his other books, Soul Moments. The book has taught me that synchronicity and serendipity in my life is worth recognizing and remembering, even though the meaning or reason is mysterious.


L i n k s

If you find these men as interesting as I do, you might want to check out the links below. Surprisingly, there isn't very much digital information about some of them, Stoddard in particular, but let me know if you find any sites I have missed that I should add below.

  J o h n   S t o d d a r d :

Portfolio of Photographs - A digital version of some of the photographs taken by Stoddard on his journeys.

Rebuilding a Lost Faith - This site includes a few exerpts from his 1922 book on Christian apologetics.

  B u r t o n   H o l m e s :

Burton Holmes & His Travelogues - A small biography of Holmes.

Burton Holmes & the Trans-Siberian Railroad - Burton and his trip on it in 1901, before the railroad was even completed.

Burton Holmes Lectures - Volume 1 - The complete book scanned for your pleasure!

Burton Holmes on IMDB - Movies directed and produced by Holmes.

  W a l t e r
M i t t e l h o l z e r :

A chronological summary of flights - Showing where Mittelholzer stands in the record books.

"Ad Astra-Afrikaflug" - His flight from Switzerland to South Africa.

Swissphoto AG - The company which Mittelholzer founded - it's still going strong. (unlike Swissair)

  P h i l  C o u s i n e a u :

Official Homepage - Find out here what projects Cousineau is currently working on.

Amazon.Com - A listing of available books by Cousineau.

The Book of Roads: Travel Stories - The newest book by Cousineau, only available here!