Looking for Arabian/Middle East Travel Lit (Pre 1950)

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Looking for Arabian/Middle East Travel Lit (Pre 1950)

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huhtikuu 26, 2008, 11:16pm

I'm looking for suggestions, any arabian travelog stuff. But earlier than 1950.

I've just finished reading Wilfred Thesiger's 'Arabian Sands', and I also have his 'Marsh Arabs', along with a number of Freya Starks books to read. I have a number of Richard F. Burton 's books.

Any recommendations are welcome.


huhtikuu 26, 2008, 11:38pm

If you liked Burton, then perhaps Travels in Arabia Deserta.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 26, 2008, 11:49pm

huhtikuu 27, 2008, 3:07pm

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is an interesting example of travel in a certain period and similarly The Towers of Trebizond which is a novel/travelogue.

huhtikuu 28, 2008, 4:21pm

A Reed Shaken by the Wind by Gavin Maxwell about his travels among the Marsh Arabs. I don't have my copy to hand, but I think it was written in the 1950s

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 28, 2008, 9:07pm

2: Thanks, I'd missed that one completely. I hear Doughty has a rather strange style, I just ordered the Dover Edition of Travels in Arabia Deserta: selected passages, while I track down the full version.

6: That Sounds like a Great companion to Wilfred Thesigers Marsh Arabs which I'm almost finished.

5: The Towers of Trebizond sounds hilarious.


Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 29, 2008, 12:05pm

Towers of Trebizond is very funny cosmicdolphin.

I thought it was the 40s but it might bump right up against your 1950s timeframe.

huhtikuu 30, 2008, 9:50am

huhtikuu 30, 2008, 7:47pm

9: Coincidentally I just bought 'Passionate Nomad' today.

I also picked up 'Travels with a Tangerine' by Tim Mackintosh-Smith, 'Winter in Arabia' by Freya Stark, and 'Budge's Egypt'.

The perils of working in a bookstore ;-) I narrowly fended off buying a third Captain Sir Richard Burton Biography.

toukokuu 1, 2008, 12:24am


I've read Travels With A Tangerine and recommend it.

In Come, Tell Me How You Live Agatha Christie recounts her adventures in the Middle East during the 1930s while accompanying her archeologist husband Max Mallowan.

Today, while at the used outlet at our library, I picked up Wilfred Thesiger's The Marsh Arabs.

toukokuu 2, 2008, 10:02am

#1> After Richard Burton, how about T E Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom?

toukokuu 2, 2008, 12:16pm

How about The Flying Carpet by Richard Halliburton?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 30, 2008, 7:46am

Coming to this debate late, but The Road to Oxiana, by Robert Byron is a uniquely written travel book describing a 1930s journey to the borders of (the then) Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Jerusalem and Iran are stopping points on the way.

The other authors that readily spring to mind have been covered (Burton, Stark and Thesiger).

By the way, in A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush which Maren mentions in post #5, Newby describes a meeting with Thesiger in the Kush of Afghanistan. Thesiger was being carried by helpers through the mountains, as he was incapacitated. I thought this was a lovely piece of anecdote, as i had just finished reading Thesiger's autobiography at the time.

kesäkuu 1, 2008, 6:59am

'Road to Oxiana' I'm picking up this week and look forward to reading.

Has anyone read 'A Thousand Miles Up the Nile' by Amelia Edwards ? I'd like to pick it up, but guess I'll find I used copy, since the current cheap edition is only half the book according to reviews.

Also, has anyone read 'With the camel corps up the Nile' by Count Gleichen, I can't resist the title but haven't seen any reviews.


kesäkuu 1, 2008, 9:06am

Immersed in Passionate Nomad: the Life of Freya Stark by Jane Geniesse, a magnificent biography.
The quotations from Starks’ autobiography and letters are so tasty that they cause a desire for more in me.
I shall have to make a choice: Jane Fletcher Geniesse mentions 4 volumes of autobiography and 8 volumes of letters in her bibliography.

kesäkuu 3, 2008, 6:28pm

I just found an interesting publisher in the UK called 'Darf Publishers' who's specialty seems to be Facsimile copies of 19th Century travel/history etc stuff about the Middle East/North Africa. If only the exchange rate didn't suck so much :-( I should get a couple of their titles next week if the gods of shipping are on form.

Their website is here: http://www.darfpublishers.co.uk/

kesäkuu 4, 2008, 11:57am

Hi Rich

I'd recommend The Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad, a Polish journalist, written in the 1920s. It's a brilliantly crafted memoir.

heinäkuu 17, 2008, 6:04pm

Fictional, but well-researched and with a 'grain of truth' about the first-person narrator (and, 1979): Royall Tyler's The Algerine Captive.

heinäkuu 31, 2008, 1:08pm

Just bought a new book called Men of Salt.

elokuu 16, 2008, 8:04am

Doesn't get much better than Seven Pillars of Wisdom (TE Lawrence) or Innocents Abroad (Mark Twain).


Ben Orbach
author of Live from Jordan

elokuu 26, 2008, 6:32pm

20 Dennis_David:

Let me know how 'Men of Salt' turns out, likely it will get picked up sometime this year.

21 benjaminorbach:

Already have 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom'. 'Innocents Abroad' has popped up as a rec from a few people, so I'll add it my list :-) Thanks

22 bernsad:

I have other travelogs which have referred to 'Bertram Thomas', and that sounds pretty much dead on for what I'm looking for.

I also just picked up 'Dervish Diary' by 'Carl Vett' which is about 2 weeks spent in a Sufi Monastery in Istanbul circa 1925.

Keep the suggestions coming. It's been great so far.


helmikuu 6, 2011, 2:17pm

For a slightly more unconventional angle, I'd recommend Henry de Monfreid's autobiographical Hashish: A Smuggler's Tale. It especially covers the early 20th century Red Sea coasts of Egypt (Nile Delta/Suez canal/Sinai coast), Sudan, Eritrea, Arabia and Yemen, but also touches on Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean.

helmikuu 6, 2011, 4:13pm

Have a look on www.manybooks.net - I was on there getting free ebooks and there are LOADS of marvellous out-of-copyright travel narratives I've never seen before!

helmikuu 6, 2011, 8:17pm

Dont you just love A Passionate Nomad - it was one of my favourite books when I read it a couple of years ago.

Maybe from a female perspective - Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia - by Janet Wallach.

The Turkish Embassy Letters - by Lady Mary Wortley Montague

I am loving the suggestions so far.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 2011, 11:12am

Another great book is Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century by Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje.

It was written in the 19th century by the first Westerner who stayed in Mekka for a longer period of time. It is probably best read in the recent Dutch translation (Mekka), which contains a long introduction of the author and the book. This great scholar of Islam and Realpolitiker was not very impressed by the religious character of the city.

lokakuu 19, 2011, 9:17am

24 PolarisBeacon

I finally ordered Hashish: A Smuggler's Tale, I'll post a review when I've finished it.

lokakuu 19, 2011, 9:54am

28 - Nice one! I'll be interested to read your review as it was a long time ago that I read it.

tammikuu 11, 2012, 6:22pm

29 PolarisBeacon

I finally started reading it. I really wanted to like it, but in the end I found the style very stilted/weird and couldn't go on. I wonder whether it's just the translation. Also he keeps glossing over certain events...in my other memoir I told you about...type of stuff. Maybe I'll try it again at a later date.

I did recently find out about another title I didn't know about The Empty Quarter by St. John Philby, father of spy Kim Philby. Added it to my list of books to buy.

tammikuu 11, 2012, 9:05pm

30 - Fair enough! The Empty Quarter looks interesting, although I don't know if anything from that region will be as well written or as memorable as Wilfred Thesiger's writing.

Any time I ever see images of Dubai or Abu Dhabi on the TV, or hear about people visiting there for a holiday, I wonder what he would make of it all...

tammikuu 11, 2012, 9:20pm

That said, looking at short on-line biographies of Philby, he certainly led an extremely fascinating life.