Synopses & Reviews
Freya Stark first journeyed to Iraq in 1927. Seven years after the establishment of the British Mandate, the modern state was in its infancy and worlds apart from the country it has since become. During her many years in Iraq, Stark was witness to the rise and fall of the British involvement in the country as well as the early years of independence. Typically—and controversially—she chose to live outside the close-knit western expatriate scene and immersed herself in the way of life of ordinary Iraqis—living in the “native” quarter of the city and spending time with its tribal sheikhs and leaders. Venturing out of Baghdad, she traveled to Mosul, Nineveh, Tikrit and Najaf, where she perceptively describes the millennia-old tensions between Sunni and Shi'a. In the 1940s she returned again, this time traveling south, to the Marsh Arabs, whose way of life has now all but disappeared; north into Kurdistan and later, Kuwait, in the days before the oil boom.
“Readers of Stark’s reissued works...will find a writer who endows everyone in her field of vision with the heightened interest that she felt herself.” -- The New Yorker "She was a vivid describer of scenes and landscapes. More, she was a connoisseur of people: she knew how to draw them out and listened closely when they spoke" -- Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker
“Readers of Starks reissued works...will find a writer who endows everyone in her field of vision with the heightened interest that she felt herself.” -- The New Yorker
"She was a vivid describer of scenes and landscapes. More, she was a connoisseur of people: she knew how to draw them out and listened closely when they spoke" -- Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker
"Its impossible not to enjoy a book by Freya Stark…[they] are immediately satisfying. They put you at ease and then transport you to worlds now gone and yet familiar. Thanks to Starks literary output, and these fine new editions by Tauris Parke, her world is far from forgotten. Go and buy this book and read it was soon as you are able." -- Eamonn Gearon, Geographical
About the Author
Freya Stark (1893-1993), called "the poet of travel", was the doyenne of Middle East travel writers and one of the most courageous and adventurous female travelers in history. She traveled extensively through Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Southern Arabia, where she became the first western woman to travel through the Hadhramaut. Usually solo, she ventured to places few Europeans had ever been. Her travels earned her the title of Dame and huge public acclaim and her many, now classic, books include Travels in the Near East, Ionia, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander's Path, Dust in the Lion's Paw, East is West and Valleys of the Assassins.
Table of Contents
Foreword * The Desert Route * An Introduction from Damascus * In the Moslem Quarter * Marie the Armenian * Life in the Slum * The Making of a Nationalist * Concerning smells * A Chapter of Discord * The life of the River * A visit in the Desert * European and American Ladies in Iraq * The Social Status of Ladies * Concerning Manners * A syriac Christmas * Education * Ramadhan * The Fellahin * The Nisibin Road * The Young Effendi and the Sentimental Traveller * The Devil-Worshippers * The Death of Mandali * The Kuwait Journey * Kuwait II 1937 * Failichah * The “Slaves” club * Cosmetics * Built on Sand * The ‘Ashura * One of the Four Holy Cities of Iraq* Samarra and Tekrit* Nejf * Illustrations * The Muezzin * The Shopkeepers had set out their Wares * The Life of the River * The Coffee shop *