chapter  1
Pages 6

World history teachers have come to love Ibn Battuta. This North African traveler journeyed over 75,000 miles in his life, on foot and by donkey and ship, visiting three continents and many islands and reporting on them with a combination of keen description and vigorous value judgments. He tells us much about societies of his time-the fourteenth century-and his travels more broadly suggest the larger context for interregional contacts, including available transportation. But there is more than reportage. His motivations-why would someone go so far, amid such demanding conditions?—invite speculation about what moved some extraordinary people to indulge such wide curiosity. The consequences of his travels count too: his trips, and others like them, helped motivate other kinds of connections, in a crucial period in which world history turns from largely a story about separate places to an analysis of mutual influences.