Kate Ward
August 15, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The coming months will see the release of four books that chronicle re-creations of famous journeys. The first, Paul Theroux’s Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, is out Aug. 18. Below, the authors talk about their experiences on the road — by train, by motorcycle, and even by camel.

1. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, by Paul Theroux
Thirty years after he first traveled across Europe and Asia, Theroux, 67, decided to return and document each country’s changing physical and social landscape. ”Most of the politicians in the world are just awful,” he notes ruefully.

2. Zen and Now, by Mark Richardson
After reading Robert Pirsig’s 1974 classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Richardson, 46, wanted to duplicate the trip on his own dirt bike. ”I had some near misses on my motorcycle in the same sorts of places that he did,” Richardson says.

3. Blood River, by Tim Butcher
Butcher, 40, took a risk by retracing explorer H.M. Stanley’s steps through the danger-ridden Congo, where he needed — and got — help from locals. ”In spite of the suffering in the Congo, they retain all these good virtues in the face of incredible odds,” he says.

4. In the Footsteps of Marco Polo, by Denis Belliveau and Francis O’Donnell
Belliveau, 44, and O’Donnell, 48, re-created Polo’s expedition around the world — and managed to do so without flying. Belliveau’s favorite method of transport? ”Camel, because it’s relaxed.”

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