Exploring Iran with Peter Hitchens
The British are well-known as travellers. I think of Wilfred Thesiger exploring the Arabian Desert in the 1940s and Mary Kingsley tackling spear traps and crocodiles in 19th century Africa with understatement and good humour.
Warren Hastings, an 18th century traveller, became fluent in Hindi and Persian. In 1769, long before his unhappy East India Company experience, he wrote that the study of Persian “cannot fail to open our minds, and to inspire us with that benevolence which our religion inculcates, for the whole race of mankind” (Niall Ferguson, Empire).
Travelling to a country such as Iran seems hazardous today, but Peter Hitchens has just done it and published his Persia Diary. It is worth reading. (It is the basis of his report in the Sunday Mail with more detail.) Peter's point-of-view resembles Hasting's.