The travel classic by intrepid explorer Freya Stark, relating her journeys through the infamous 'Valleys of the Assassins' alone in the 1930s. A John Murray Journey.
Freya Stark is most famous for her travels in Arabia at a time when very few men, let alone women, had fully explored its vast hinterlands. In 1934, she made her first journey to the Hadhramaut in what is now Yemen - the first woman to do so alone. Even though that journey ended in disappointment, sickness and a forced rescue, Stark, undeterred, returned to Yemen two years later. Starting in Mukalla and skirting the fringes of the legendary and unexplored Empty Quarter, she spent the winter searching for Shabwa - ancient capital of the Hadhramaut and a holy grail for generations of explorers. From within Stark's beautifully-crafted and deeply knowledgeable narrative emerges a rare and exquisitely-rendered portrait of the customs and cultures of the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. A Winter in Arabia is one of the most important pieces of literature on the region and a book that placed Freya Stark in the pantheon of great writers and explorers of the Arab World. To listen to her voice is to hear the rich echoes of a land whose 'nakedness is clothed in shreds of departed splendour'.
Freya Stark was witness to the rise and fall of the British involvement in the country as well as the early years of independence. Painting a portrait of both the political and social preoccupations of the day as exquisitely as she does the people and landscapes of Iraq, this is a remarkable portrait of the country as it once was.
'She has written the best travel books of her generation and her name will survive as an artist in prose.' - The Observer Written just after the Second World War, Perseus in the Wind (named after the constellation) is perhaps the most personal, and haunting, of all Freya Stark's writings. She muses on the seasons, the effect light has on a landscape at a particular time of day, the smell of the earth after rain, Muslim saints, Indian temples, war and old age. Each chapter is devoted to a particular theme: happiness (simple pleasures, like her father's passion for the view from his cabin in Canada); education (to be able to command happiness, recognise beauty, value death, increase enjoyment); beauty (incongruous, flighty and elusive - a description of the stars, the burst of flowers in a park); death (a childhood awareness of the finality of time, the meaningfulness of the end); memory (the jewelled quality of literature, pleasure, love, an echo or a scent when aged by the passage of time). For those who have loved her travel writing, Perseus in the Wind illuminates the motivations behind Freya Stark's journeys and the woman behind the traveller.
In the early 1950s, following the trail of ancient Persian and Greek traders, Freya Stark set out by boat to explore the Lycian coast. For all those who now follow in her wake, there can be no better, more evocative or knowledgeable guide to this, Turkey's most enchanting coast.
When Roman legions marched into Asia Minor in 200BC, their plan was to secure a buffer zone between the Mediterranean, which they virtually owned, and the area beyond, which they sought to isolate rather than control. Along the long frontier of the Euphrates in Turkey lay the easternmost limits of the Roman Empire--a region they called Augusta Euphrantentis. Their expanding involvement lasted eight centuries, draining their energies and culminating in the destruction of the bridge that, since the time of Alexander the Great, had linked China to the commerce of the Mediterranean. Tracing the path of this ancient river and highlighting her travels with the vibrant history of 800 years of Roman warfare and the history of this mighty river, Freya Stark ultimately reveals the futility of war, of arbitrary boundaries, and territorial conquest. Rome on the Euphrates, at once travel and history, is one of her most magnificent and highly acclaimed works.
Wandering beyond the boundaries of travel, the author entered into the soul of ancient Ionia, examining the ever-present tension between East and West and the elements of religion, society and commerce that forged the culture of a civilisation. This title takes you on a journey through the ancient world that resonates in the modern.
Freya Stark's most famous work, Valley of the Assassins, stems from this period, and indeed she was so intrepid in venturing into remote areas of Luristan that the governor of Husainabad commented, No wonder that yours is a powerful nation. Your women do what our men are afraid to attempt. This volume includes much previously unpublished material.