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The Hanbury-Tenison Collection
The Cunninghame Graham Collection
The Isabella Bird Collection
Australia and the Pacific
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North Africa and the
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North Africa and the Middle East
Between the Desert and
the Deep Blue Sea, Gill Suttle -
the finest book ever penned about equestrian travel in Syria. It’s full of
adventure, as well as being poetic in its search for a deeper meaning to the
for whom the name of Syria conjures up images of George W. Bush’s “Axis of
Evil”, or who picture the Middle East in general to be a place of endemic
unrest or squabbling religious factions, this book will come as a
revelation. Here they will discover a nation where all clans and creeds live
in enviable harmony, their goodwill towards each other exceeded only by the
warmth of their welcome to an eccentric foreigner.
people represent the top layer of a multi-dimensional mosaic; for few
countries possess such a diversity of culture, religion, topography or
historical legacy. This is the story of a journey into more than one
A passion for
Arab horses and a long acquaintance with Syria inspired the author to travel
on horseback into the backwoods of this fascinating land in 1998. Here is an
account greatly differing from those of some recent equestrian travel books,
which describe heavily organised expeditions complete with logistics team,
back-up lorry, spare horses and all the latest equipment. In contrast, this
traveller enjoyed a relaxed, spontaneous ramble, living out of home-made
saddlebags, enjoying the hospitality of local people and often sleeping
rough. Best of all, her companion was that of her wildest childhood
fantasies: an Arab stallion.
horse and rider traversed the gorges and cornfields of the Orontes valley,
where Roman water wheels still work alongside modern irrigation; lost
themselves among the ridges and passes of the Alawi Mountain, whose various
minority sects live happily together and whose ruined castles recall the
times of the Crusades; briefly touched the Mediterranean shore, before
crossing the western reaches of the Badiat ash-Sham, or Syrian Desert, on
the way down to the Damascus Oasis. They trod where an Egyptian Pharaoh gave
battle, supped with descendants of Biblical Assyrians and mediaeval
Assassins, and visited the Jebel-ad-Din, or Mountain of Faith, where
villagers still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ.
informed by history, Islam and its offshoots, geography and - where
absolutely unavoidable - politics, this delightful book is principally an
account of the people of Syria - and of a gallant and memorable horse.
with maps and a fine selection of photographs.
information about this book, please visit
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Desert Ways to Baghdad and Damascus, Louisa Jebb
witnesses the birth of some great soul. Sometimes events bring these people
to the attention of the world. More often than not, they alter the lives
around them, then pass on quietly. Such a soul belonged to the author of
this cherished book.
There was nothing in Louisa
Jebb’s comfortable Victorian youth to indicate she would one day take to the
saddle and pen one of the most eloquent equestrian travel books ever
Yet in the early years of the
20th century, Jebb set out with a female companion to cross the
Turkish Empire on horseback. To say they were unprepared to become Long
Riders would be an understatement. Neither of them could speak the local
language. Furthermore, both wore cumbersome full-length skirts and rode
side-saddles. They were, in a word, enthusiastic amateurs who believed
courage and common sense would see them through. Remarkably, it did.
Having hired a picturesque
guide and reliable horses, they set out to explore the secret corners of the
Sultan’s empire. What they discovered were guarded harems and regal Pashas,
fabled rivers and a desert world of intense beauty. If Jebb rode into Turkey
expecting to find adventure, she found it. Yet she discovered something else
– nomadic freedom. It is her personal observations about this subject that
set “By Desert Ways to Baghdad and Damascus” apart from other equestrian
travel books. “In the untravelled parts of the East you reign supreme, there
is no need to go about securely chained to a gold watch. Ignore Time, and he
is your servant,” she observed wisely.
Sadly, revolution and death
soon swept across this fabled land, wiping away the kingdom of the Turkish
Caliphs and laying the foundations for the grief which enshrouds this
unhappy part of the world today. Upon her return to “civilization” the
author lamented about what she had found, then lost. “Last night we were
dirty, isolated and free, tonight we are clean, sociable and trammelled.
Last night the setting sun’s final message was burnt into us. Tonight the
sunset passed unheeded as we sit imprisoned and oppressed by the confining
walls of Damascus Palace Hotel. We are no longer princesses whose hands are
kissed. We are now judged by the cost of our raiment.”
Few books contain as many great
abiding truths as this one does.
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Mogreb-El-Acksa, Robert Cunninghame Graham - What rare spark
motivates a man to do the impossible – again and again? What manner of
man destroys the boundaries of the word “unobtainable” and replaces it with
the words “why not”? Meet Robert Cunninghame Graham, the author of
this book and a living legend of the late 19th century.
with politics, the famous horseman sought solace in the saddle. His
To journey across
Morocco in 1897 by riding through the Atlas mountains and reaching the city
Of course there
was one small problem.
The Sultan had
forbidden outsiders, especially Christians, from going there.
flouted the danger, saddled his Barb horse and galloped straight into the
teeth of one of the greatest desert stories ever told. Disguised in local
clothes and calling himself “Sheikh Mohammad El Fasi,” the Scottish author
posing as a Turkish doctor was only hours away from the elusive city when he
was captured and kidnapped.
This book, an
instant best-seller, brought praises from Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells and
Bernard Shaw, who all agreed it was a rare book written by a man so
kaleidoscopic in character that he defied belief.
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