Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mount TBR #6

I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2016. The challenge is to read books that you already own.

From the Sahara to Samarkand: Selected Travel Writings of Rosita Forbes 1919-1937

Between the wars was the golden age of travel writing. Freya Stark, English travel writer, and Ella Maillart, Swiss journalist, are the two women best-remembered nowadays for their narratives of journeys in the Middle East and Central Asia. Forgotten, however, is Rosita Forbes, but this collection of her best pieces will remedy that.

Forbes wrote for magazines so in plain language she gets across the thrill of accomplishing of difficult feats such as finding the way where roads don’t exist and local guides aren’t used to be 20 miles away from their native village. In the typical English way, she gets through travel ordeals with humor. However, without bragging, she also conveys that overcoming harrowing experiences takes bravery, intelligence, and the stoic’s ability to keep a cool head when faced with situations in the desert that are utterly out of one’s control. The feeling the reader gets from her tales is that she never hesitated even when safety and caution might have been bywords.

Also like other travel writers like Peter Fleming, she carries her knowledge of  geography and history  lightly. She deftly weaves expositions about the local cultures and current events with stories of travel. She has sincere pro-imperialist views and she doesn’t kid herself about objective about, say, the British in Iraq. In fact, she admired anybody that thought and felt independently.

Strongly recommended.

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