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In 1934 Freya Stark travelled alone to the Hadhramaut in what is now Yemen. Then it was a little known country, torn apart by tribal warfare, but it had once been the centre of the rich incense trade. An Arabic speaker, Freya travelled with tribesmen, accepted hospitality from sultans and saw harems.
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In 1934, a 42-year-old Englishwoman named Freya Stark arrived in the British-governed Protectorate of Aden on a singular mission: to locate the fabled, long-lost city of Shabwa.
Located on the high Hadramaut plateau in what is now Yemen, Shabwa was renowned in antiquity as the source of frankincense. Little visited even then, it was also thought to be a particularly forbidding place; Genesis mentions it as the "enclosure of death," and the Roman geographer Pliny reported that it contained 60 great temples and wealth beyond measure. That was good enough for Stark, who, having not long before made a difficult passage across the badlands of Iran, thrived on improbable adventures. And so, by burro and whatever mechanical conveyances she could find, she ascended the high mountains into a world that was sometimes perilous, but that also sometimes approached fairy-tale dimensions, as when, climbing the Hadramaut, she writes, "The path kept high and open, until gradually the valley clefts narrowed again upon us, and shut us in walls whose luxuriant green made a romantic landscape of the kind usually only invented in pictures."
Stark never reached Shabwa; laid low by measles, she had to be evacuated from territory overrun in any event by warring religious factions and gangs of bandits. Though cut short, her time in the Yemeni highlands yielded this superb travel narrative, full of uncommon vistas and milieus (harems, bazaars, and Bedouin camps among them). Anyone who values tales of adventure well told will find Stark's body of work--and this book in particular--to be full of treasures. --Gregory McNameeFrom the Inside Flap:
In 1934, famed British traveler Freya Stark sailed down the Red Sea, alighting in Aden, located at the tip of the Arabian peninsula. From this backwater outpost, Stark set forth on what was to be her most unforgettable adventure: Following the ancient frankincense routes of the Hadhramaut Valley, the most fertile in Arabia, she sought to be the first Westerner to locate and document the lost city of Shabwa. Chronicling her journey through the towns and encampments of the Hadhramaut, The Southern Gates of Arabia is a tale alive with sheikhs and sultans, tragedy and triumph. Although the claim to discovering Shabwa would not ultimately be Stark's, The Southern Gates of Arabia, a bestseller upon its original publication, remains a classic in the literature of travel. This edition includes a new Introduction by Jane Fletcher Geniesse, Stark's biographer.
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Book Description John Murray Publishers Ltd, 1971. Condition: Fair. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside. Seller Inventory # GRP90595813
Book Description John Murray Publishers Ltd, London, 1978. Hard Back. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. Tenth Impression. Very good hardback copy in very good dustjacket (priceclipped). xi, 328pp, b/w plates, foldout map. Seller Inventory # 028814
Book Description John Murray Publishers Ltd, 1978. Hardback. Condition: Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. 1978 John Murray reprint hardback; Good lightly aged ex-library copy, usual plate and stamps, with Good unclipped dj in plastic sleeve; UK dealer, immediate dispatch. Book. Seller Inventory # 31at2f
Book Description John Murray, London, 1971. Cloth. Condition: Very Good -. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good -. (1971), 328pp, illus., fold-out maps, slight shelfwear to cover, some soiling & edgewear to dj, dampstain to bottom edge of dj, dj price-clipped, contents clean. Seller Inventory # 14-0777
Book Description John Murray Publishers Ltd, 1971. Hardcover. Condition: Acceptable. General wear and ageing. Satisfaction 100% guaranteed. Seller Inventory # mon0001501994
Book Description John Murray, London, 1971. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. A very good HB of 328 pages with a good & protected DJ. When in 1935 Freya Stark travelled by herself into South Arabia to the Hadhramaut, it was a country still partly unexplored and unmapped. It was by living with the people of the Hadhramaut and travelling with them that Achieved much that would otherwise have been impossible. Opposite page288 there is a fold out map of the route of the journey & facing page 318 there is a map showing the incense routes of Arabia. there are 14 pages of black & white photographs. Seller Inventory # 001712
Book Description John Murray Publishers Ltd, London, 1972. Hardcover. Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. Later Printing. Nice bright copy, jacket spine ends faded ; 8.19 X 5.51 X 1.18 inches; 340 pages. Seller Inventory # 48568