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A Winter in Arabia
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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'.
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About the Author

Freya Stark (1893-1993), 'the poet of travel', was the doyenne of Middle East travel writers and one of the most courageous and adventurous women travellers in history. She travelled 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 Founder's Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society and she was created a Dame in 1975. She received huge public acclaim and her many, now classic, books include Traveller's Prelude, The Valleys of the Assassins, Ionia, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander's Path, Dust in the Lion's Paw and East is West. 'She has written the best travel books of her generation and her name will survive as an artist in prose.' - The Observer

Reviews

'A treasure of rare distinction among travel books.'- The New York Times Book Review; 'Here, for once in a very long while, is a book upon which the miser of superlatives may pour out his hoard of praise ... To read such a book ... is to be proud and thankful. For here is a lovely charity and calm courage, vivid gaiety, the strong peace of truth and understanding; and quietness.' - The Times Literary Supplement; 'Her writing has wit and vivacity and no little beauty; I found the whole book enthralling.' - Christian Science Monitor; 'It was rare to leave her company without feeling that the world was somehow larger and more promising. Her life was something of a work of art; The books in which she recorded her journeys were seductively individual - Nomad and social lioness, public servant and private essayist, emotional victim and mythmaker' - Colin Thubron, The New York Times; 'Her books make Stark a remarkable figure under any circumstances. Having been a woman whose roamings through Middle Eastern deserts and mountains put her in the top ranks of the fabled Royal Geographical Society makes her more so.' - Richard Bernstein, The New York Times; 'Few writers have the capacity to do with words what Faberge could do with gems-to fashion them, without violating their quality. It is this extraordinary talent which sets Freya Stark apart from her fellow craftsman in the construction of books on travel.' - The Daily Telegraph; 'Freya Stark remains unexcelled as an interpreter of brief encounters in wild regions against the backdrop of history.' - The Observer; 'One of the finest travel writers of our century.' - The New Yorker; 'A Middle East traveler, an explorer and, above all, a writer, Freya Stark has, with an incomparably clear eye, looked toward the horizon of the past without ever losing sight of the present. Her books are route plans of a perceptive intelligence, traversing time and space with ease.' - Saudi Aramco World

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