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Ebook Baghdad Sketches (Travel) by Freya Stark read! Book Title: Baghdad Sketches (Travel)
The author of the book: Freya Stark
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 780 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.5
Edition: Marlboro Press
Date of issue: December 4th 1996
ISBN: 0810160234
ISBN 13: 9780810160231
Language: English

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For over forty years (except for a brief interlude when she was married), Freya Stark spent some 40 years traveling by herself in the Middle East. I have just finished reading her first book, Baghdad Sketches (1932), consisting of columns written for the Baghdad Times plus some 8 pieces added later for the British edition.

I am amazed that she was able to not only survive traveling in a difficult part of the world roughly between 1928 and 1970, but she lived to the age of 100.

She is not the first to do sir. Gertrude Bell (who died in Baghdad just a couple years before Freya arrived there), also covered much of the same ground. Still, I cannot imagine in this period of violent jihad and xenophobia that their travels could be duplicated without a military escort.

Freya had interesting attitudes about solitude and travel. On the former, she wrote that “solitude is the one deep necessity of the human spirit to which adequate recognition is never given in our codes. It is looked upon as a discipline or penance, but almost never as the indispensable, pleasant ingredient it is to ordinary life.” For the modern traveler, she felt with distaste that its purpose “is to give people a glimpse of the exotic places without the least bit of inconvenience to themselves.”

In Baghdad Sketches, she gives a picture of a much more diverse population than exists now in the era of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Stark frequently visited among the Kurds, Yezidis, Shi’as, and Eastern Christians living in Iraq during the 1930s.

Among her books that I have read with pleasure, in addition to Baghdad Sketches, are:

The Valleys of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels (1934)
The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey to the Hadhramaut (1938)
Alexander’s Path: From Caria to Cilicia (1958)—about Turkey

Many of her books are still in print.

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Read information about the author

Ebook Baghdad Sketches (Travel) read Online! Freya Stark was born in Paris, where her parents were studying art. Her mother, Flora, was an Italian of Polish/German descent; her father, Robert, an English painter from Devon.

In her lifetime she was famous for her experiences in the Middle East, her writing and her cartography. Freya Stark was not only one of the first Western women to travel through the Arabian deserts (Hadhramaut), she often travelled solo into areas where few Europeans, let alone women, had ever been.

She spent much of her childhood in North Italy, helped by the fact that Pen Browning, a friend of her father, had bought three houses in Asolo. She also had a grandmother in Genoa. For her 9th birthday she received a copy of the One Thousand and One Nights, and became fascinated with the Orient. She was often ill while young, and confined to the house, so found an outlet in reading. She delighted in reading French, in particular Dumas, and taught herself Latin. When she was 13 she had an accident in a factory in Italy, when her hair got caught in a machine, and she had to spend four months getting skin grafts in hospital, which left her face slightly disfigured.

She later learned Arabic and Persian, studied history in London and during World War I worked as a nurse in Italy, where her mother had remained and taken a share in a business. Her sister, Vera, married the co-owner.

In November 1927 she visited Asolo for the first time in years, and later that month boarded a ship for Beirut, where her travels in the East began. She based herself first at the home of James Elroy Flecker in Lebanon and then in Baghdad, where she met the British high commissioner.

By 1931 she had completed three dangerous treks into the wilderness of western Iran, in parts of which no Westerner had ever been before, and had located the long-fabled Valleys of the Assassins (hashish-eaters). During the 1930s she penetrated the hinterland of southern Arabia, where only a handful of Western explorers had previously ventured and then never as far or as widely as she went.

During World War II, she joined the British Ministry of Information and contributed to the creation of a propaganda network aimed at persuading Arabs to support the Allies or at least remain neutral. She wrote more than two dozen books based on her travels, almost all of which were published by John Murray in London, with whom she had a successful and long-standing working relationship.

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