The Camel’s Neighbor: Travels and Travelers in Yemen

Interlink. Oct. 2020. 292p. ISBN 9781623719340. pap. $20. TRAV
Moscrop, a physician with Britain’s National Health Service, had planned to return to Yemen where he had once lived and worked, but political turmoil in the region prevented him from making the trip. Instead, he reread the diaries he kept while living in an old tower house in Sana’a, the largest city in Yemen and a UNESCO heritage site. As the war raged on, he read accounts of past travelers to Yemen. While he worked in Greece with refugees, he began about the country the Yemeni Tourist Board called “beguiling, medieval, and unknown.” Part travel memoir and part reflections on history, the work recounts the tales of various adventurers, scientists, missionaries, and travel writers. Surprisingly, Moscrop doesn’t elaborate on his work as a doctor but shares stories about his neighbors and volunteering as an international election observer in 2006. He sampled boiled goat head, chewed on the plant qat, and tried the public baths. He also has a surprising encounter with a free-spirited local woman, a great deal of bootleg whiskey, and crashes a party celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s birthday at the British Embassy.
VERDICT This combination of memoir and highlights of Yemen history will appeal to readers interested in the culture, history, and landscape of the Middle East.

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