SOCIAL SCIENCES

An Arabian Journey: One Man's Quest Through the Heart of the Middle East

Grove Atlantic. Feb. 2019. 368p. illus. index. ISBN 9780802147325. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780802147332. TRAV
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OrangeReviewStarLondon-based travel writer (Walking the Nile), photographer, and explorer Wood embarks on a journey similar to his hero Lawrence of Arabia. He travels to Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, the Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel, concluding in Lebanon, using local guides and townsfolk to accompany him despite the danger, particularly from the ever-present ISIS (Daesh). Descriptions of some of the most magnificent places on earth occur beside accounts of Daesh and those trying to defeat them. These details are horrifying to read, while hearing place names such as Mosul and Basra, familiar to most, are equally compelling. Readers will meet kind as well as terrifying individuals. Fortunately, Wood possesses the ideal temperament to deal with everyone, whether a sultan or an illiterate nomad. Throughout the expedition, he resolves to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem with family and friends, a heartwarming event after so many dangerous encounters on the road.
VERDICT Ideal for those interested in Middle Eastern history, current events, or world history, as well as lovers of superlative writing.

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