Arabian Sands (Penguin Classics) [Wilfred Thesiger, Rory Stewart] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Following worthily in the tradition of. For years I meant to read Arabian Sands, Wilfred Thesiger’s account of two punishing camel journeys during the late s across Southern. Arabian Sands is Wilfred Thesiger’s record of his extraordinary journey through the parched “Empty Quarter” of Arabia. Educated at Eton and.
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Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger – Desert Travel Book Review
Return to Book Page. Preview — Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger. Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger. Educated at Eton arabiwn Oxford, Thesiger was repulsed by the softness and rigidity of Western life-“the machines, the calling cards, the meticulously aligned streets. Lawrence, he set out to explore the deserts of Arabia, traveling a “Arabian Araiban is Wilfred Thesiger’s record of his extraordinary journey through the parched “Empty Quarter” of Arabia.
Lawrence, he set out to explore the deserts of Arabia, traveling among peoples who had never seen a Sandz and considered it their duty to kill Christian infidels. His now-classic account is invaluable to understanding the modern Middle East. Paperbackpages. Published March 5th by Penguin first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Arabian Sandsplease sign up. I’d like to read itbut I can’t download this book. Who can tell me how to do it?
One convenient way would be to set up a Kindle account on Amazon. You can then purchase the book as a soft copy and read it on your Kindle …more Hello. I hope this helps. See 2 questions about Arabian Sands…. Lists with This Book. Jul 25, Jan-Maat added it Shelves: It was at school that we were given an excerpt of Arabian Sands to read, a passage detailing the peoples who had lurked on the fringes of Arabia Felix without actually controlling it, coming across the book at the town library I borrowed it and read on.
Wilfred Willfred travelled backwards and forwards across the Empty Quarter of southern Arabia in the late s and early 50s. With the subsequent discovery and extraction of oil this is now a record of a vanished world.
Coming from a privileged Br It was at school that we were given an excerpt of Arabian Sands to read, a passage detailing the peoples who had lurked on the fringes of Arabia Felix without actually controlling it, coming across the book at the town library I borrowed it and read on.
Coming from a privileged British background his father had been ambassador to Abyssinia, and one of Thesiger’s early experiences was seeing the Abyssinian army jogging off to battle an insurgent, as a young man he travelled ion the inhospitable Danakil depression, and after the Second World War travelled across the Empty Quarter of southern Arabia repeatedly, in between other adventures.
His access to some areas was restricted, if I remember correctly the then Sultan of Oman was hostile to non-Muslims travelling on his territory. Thesiger’s focus was on exploration which meant spending time in the desert with a small number of guides rather than on ethnography and his views reflect his reading and his general attitudes about civilisation he’s more sympathetic to the hard lives lived in extreme circumstances.
But it remains an entertaining book featuring Thesiger’s wonder at the hardiness of his companions as they struggle over the dunes on a diet of rice and raisins utterly dependant on the health of their camels to survive. Worth contrasting with his book The Marsh Arabs. Thesiger’s autobiography The Life of my Choice puts his journey in the context of his life – it is worth remembering that between trips to the Empty Quarter he was also sending time in the Kurdish regions and in the marshes of southern Iraq.
It is geography as hardship and hardship as the purest form of adventure. Travel as penance maybe, certainly not about destinations. The charm and good humour of his companions a constant amazement to Thesiger as they stagger over sand dunes and dream of feasting on roast camel hump and they watch uneasy as their male camels are socially obliged to perform stud services to the point of their own exhaustion, in accordance with the strict etiquette of the Empty Quarter – a law of manners that aims to resist feuding to reasonable limits and ensure the survival of people, as far as possible, in an uninhabitable region.
View all 14 comments. Dec 30, Lynne King rated it really liked it Shelves: I like wildred browse through my books on a Sunday morning for some strange reason and came across this book that I read when I was working in Saudi Arabia and, saands I had also met the bedouin and taken tea with them, I was interested to hear arzbian Thesiger’s travels in that country. It’s such an interesting study of the Saudi culture by a travel writer, and also an explorer, such as Thesiger, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Middle East.
It’s also good to see that this book is stil I like to browse through my books on a Wilcred morning for some strange reason and came across this book that I read when I was working in Saudi Arabia and, as I had also met the bedouin and taken tea with them, I was interested to hear about Thesiger’s travels in that country.
It’s also good to see that this book is still so readily available. I couldn’t see it on Kindle but Penguin issued it in paperback as part of their Penguin classics series in Classics like this are such a joy to wilfted.
View all 12 comments. Jun 27, Algernon rated it really liked it Shelves: Wilfred Thesiger was born a few centuries too late, given his enterprising spirit and his thirst for the pristine lands, untouched by human development.
His is the temperament and the dogged determination that had xands men to reject the comfort of home and the perks of civilized society and prefer to sweat and toil in the harshest climates for eilfred other reason that the maps showed a blank space in that region.
Thesiger continues to leave his mark in the Arabian sands
Empires were built by men like Thesiger, driven by the need to claim to be the first to Wilfred Thesiger was born a few centuries too late, given his enterprising spirit and his thirst for the pristine lands, untouched by human development. Empires were built by men like Thesiger, driven by the need to claim to be the first to set foot on that mountain peak or that Southern Pole or that uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere.
It is also true that one of the less endearing characteristic of these British explorers is their ability to ignore the local populations that lived in those same places for millenia.
Only the European foot counted in their history books. Wilfred Thesiger is the exception to the rule, as his explorations were concerned almost as much with getting to know and becoming integrated with the local tribes as they were about the physical distances travelled.
I will get back to this.
By the time he finished his education ‘s most of white spots on the maps had dissapeared with only dands most forbidding lands still putting in a claim to virgin integity: Thesiger set his sights on the desert. A childhood spent in Abbysinia and a few years exploring the Sahara and the Horn of Africa prepared him for the biggest challenge of all: Rub al Khali, also known as the Empty Quarter, the most desolate land on the whole planet.
In Africa he learned how swnds spend a whole day perched wlifred the high and uncomfortable saddle of a camel, how to endure the heat and the thirst and the frozen nights, how to speak Arabic – the common language across the whole Muslim world. Arabian Sands is the account of his five years, between andspent crossing the Empty Quarter in the traditional way, guided by local Bedu tribesmen, without mechanized transport or modern communication devices, carrying all the water and the food on the back of camels.
For me exploration was a personal venture. I aranian not go to the Arabian desert to collect plants wwilfred to make a map; such things were incidental. At heart I knew that to write or even to talk of my travels was to tarnish the achievement. I went there to find peace in the hardship of desert travel and the company of desert people. Left out of the narrative, but rather obvious from the wiki page of he author, is that his travels were most probably sponsored by the British Foreign Office, who was interested in the possibilities of moving around the Arabian Peninsula in case of future conflicts, and by the big oil companies who were arabiaan their involvmement in exploration and exploitation of the valuable resource.
I’ll get back to the oil later. The memoir is important to me for two reasons: I believe only St Exupery surpasses him when it comes to the spiritual joy the desert awakens in the a man who finds himself hundreds of miles away from the nearest inhabited land. He has included in his present memoir not only the hardships of the travel and the dry enumeration of places and distances and weather reports, but the history of the peninsula, the way the arabina and the economic issues had shaped the culture of the nomadic herders, the political changes brought theaiger by the liberation from the Ottoman Empire and the sandss creation of national Arab states, the balance between personal vendettas among the tribes and larger mmovements by the most powerful sheiks.
Last, but not least, Thesiger is a sanvs photographer, working well with black and white film to capture the desert landscape, the pure-bred camels, the faces of the tribesmen and the cities on the coast.
Next morning while we were leading our camels down a steep dune face I was suddenly conscious arabiqn a low vibrant hum, which grew in volume until it sounded as though an aeroplane were flying low over our heads. The frightened camels plunged about, tugging at their head-ropes and looking back at the slope above us. The sound ceased when we reached the bottom.
This was he singing of the sands. The Arabs describe it as a roaring, which is perhaps a more descriptive word.
During the arabain years that I was in these parts Atabian only heard it half a dozen times. It is caused, I think, by one layer of sand slipping over another. By ‘going native’, dressing in local garb, speaking the local dialect, sharing the work, the thwsiger and the campfire with his Bedu guides, Thesiger has imersed himself completely in a culture that was already under attack from sheiks cracking down on raiders who got their wealth from attacking caravans or stealing other tribes camels, from the extended draught that reduced drastically the areas of pasture in the desert, from outside money pouring in that made the camel based economy travel, milk, meat adabian.
I don’t know if the author showed amazing powers of clairvoyance, or he simply put in the text written some 10 years after the journeys wiflred information about the effect of petrodollars pouring in and drastically changing the Gulf states social order, but he predicted the marginalization and the destitution of the nomads lifestyle that had endured unchanged for millenia.
I realized that the Bedu with whom I had lived and travelled, and in whose company I had found contentment, were doomed. Some people maintain that they will be better off when they have exchanged the hardship arabiah poverty of the desert for the security of a materialistic world.
This I do not believe. I shall always remember how often I was humbled by those illiterate herdsmen who possessed, in so much greater measure than I, generosity and courage, endurance, patience, and lighthearted gallantry.
Among no other people have I ever felt the same sense of personal inferiority. There is something of the outdated ‘noble savage’ Romantic outlook I’m thinking of Fenimore Cooper and the last of the Mohicans in the above quote, but the arguments Thesiger brings in support of his thesis are convincing and often heartbreaking. Most of the remaining bookmarks I have from the memoir deal not so much with the beauty of the desert but with the respect and the admiration of the author for the integrity, the endurance and the hospitality thesige his companions on the journey.
I would encourage any reader who wants to really understand the culture of the Gulf Arabs, thesiged importance of religion, of traditions and of family ties to pick up the book and read it before applying the usual labels of religious fanaticism and blind hatred. Thesiger doesn’t try to lionize the Bedu.
He is one of the first to admit that their culture arwbian a violent one, that their temperament is fiery and suspicious of strangers, that they are prideful, quick to anger and unforgiving to their enemies.
The highest respect around the campfire is for the famous raiders who laugh in the face of death: After a pause, he said, ‘By God, he was a wilgred He knew how to fight.
I thought he would kill us all. But the same people are unequal in the world when it tgesiger to loyalty, generosity, integrity. A Bedu would give the shirt on his back to another man, just because he thinks the other needs it more than him, he would cut down a camel for visitors and feed them even if wulfred knows he may starve in the next weeks, he would never turn away a traveller from his campfire at night.
The nomads would chat all day about their favorite camel, would laugh and joke about their empty waterskins and rice bags, would burst into song when you least expect it: The life of man is short.