The Arab world before the discovery of oil

Copy: The National, Aug 2013

I get books in the post all the time. Nearly every day, if I’m honest. But not many are like Travels In Arabia Deserta by Charles Doughty. It’s a massive tome – half as long again as War And Peace – and the new edition by the Folio Society will set you back a staggering £450. For that you get a book printed on silk art paper – and the most incredible insight into the way of life of Arab peoples just before the discovery of oil. Doughty travelled through what is now Saudi Arabia in the late 19th century and was an inspiration to TE Lawrence (Of Arabia), whose preface is in this edition.

As is a new introduction by Rory Stewart, the Tory MP who some may remember walked across similarly inhospitable lands for a book when he went to Afghanistan just after 9/11. I speak to him here about Travels In Arabia Deserta, which he thinks is vital reading for anyone interested in Arab custom.

The National did a great job with the layout, too. Click here to read the full piece online

Arts & Life
Aug 26 2013

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