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The Sultan's Shadow: One Family's Rule at the Crossroads of East and Westby Christiane Bird
Synopses & Reviews
A story virtually unknown in the West, about two of the Middle East's most remarkable figures--Oman's Sultan Said and his rebellious daughter Princess Salme--comes to life inthis narrative. From their capital on the sultry African island of Zanzibar, Sultan Said and his descendants were shadowed and all but shattered by the rise and fall of the nineteenth-century East African slavetrade.
"As shrewd, liberal, and enlightened a prince as Arabia has ever produced." That's how explorer Richard Burton described Seyyid Said Al bin Sultan Busaid, who came topower in Oman in 1804 when he was fifteen years old. During his half-century reign, Said ruled with uncanny contradiction: as a believer in a tolerant Islam who gained power through bloodshed and perfidy, and as anopen-minded, intellectually curious man who established relations with the West while building a vast commercial empire on the backs of tens of thousands of slaves. His daughter Salme, born to a concubine in a Zanzibarharem, scandalized her family and people by eloping to Europe with a German businessman in 1866, converting to Christianity, and writing the first-known autobiography of an Arab woman.
Christiane Birdpaints a stunning portrait of violent family feuds, international intrigues, and charismatic characters--from Sultan Said and Princess Salme to the wildly wealthy slave trader Tippu Tip and the indefatigableBritish antislavery crusader Dr. David Livingstone. "The Sultan's Shadow" is a brilliantly researched and irresistibly readable foray into the stark brutality and decadent beauty of a vanishedworld.
"From the Hardcover edition."
About the Author
Christiane Bird is the author of A Thousand Sighs, A Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan; Neither East Nor West: One Woman’s Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran; and The Jazz and Blues Lover’s Guide to the U.S. A graduate of Yale University and former travel writer for the New York Daily News, she lives in New York City with her family.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
pt. 1: OMAN. Beginnings — Muscat — Slavery — The Portuguese invasion — The Al Busaids come to power — War with the Wahhabis — Seyyid Said in Muscat — pt. 2: ZANZIBAR. A princess is born (Princess Salme) — Clove fever — The move to town — On the streets — A day in the life — Gatherings — The slave trade — Americans in Zanzibar — The Swahili — Seyyid Said's last journey — The explorers — Rebellion — Elopement — pt. 3: GERMANY AND AFRICA. Hamburg — Alone — Changes — Tippu Tip — Dr. Livingstone — Stanley meets Tippu Tip — Seyyid Barghash — Endings.
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