Wilfred Thesiger (kindle or Pdf) Arabian Sands

Wilfred Thesiger é 2 Summary

Ss and rigidity of Western life the machines the calling cards the meticulously aligned streets In the spirit of T E Lawrence he set out to explore the deserts of Arabia travelin. Wilfred Thesiger was born a few centuries too late given his enterprising spirit and his thirst for the pristine lands untouched by human development His is the temperament and the dogged determination that had led men to reject the comfort of home and the perks of civilized society and prefer to sweat and toil in the harshest climates for no other reason that the maps showed a blank space in that region Empires were built by men like Thesiger driven by the need to claim to be the first to set foot on that mountain peak or that Southern Pole or that uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere It is also true that one of the less endearing characteristic of these British explorers is their ability to ignore the local populations that lived in those same places for millenia Only the European foot counted in their history books Wilfred Thesiger is the exception to the rule as his explorations were concerned almost as much with getting to know and becoming integrated with the local tribes as they were about the physical distances travelled I will get back to thisBy the time he finished his education 1930 s most of white spots on the maps had dissapeared with only the most forbidding lands still putting in a claim to virgin integity the summit of the Everest the Mariana Trench the ian jungles Thesiger set his sights on the desert A childhood spent in Abbysinia and a few years exploring the Sahara and the Horn of Africa prepared him for the biggest challenge of all Rub al Khali also known as the Empty uarter the most desolate land on the whole planet In Africa he learned how to spend a whole day perched on the high and uncomfortable saddle of a camel how to endure the heat and the thirst and the frozen nights how to speak Arabic the common language across the whole Muslim world Arabian Sands is the account of his five years between 1945 and 1950 spent crossing the Empty uarter in the traditional way guided by local Bedu tribesmen without mechanized transport or modern communication devices carrying all the water and the food on the back of camels For me exploration was a personal venture I did not go to the Arabian desert to collect plants nor to make a map such things were incidental At heart I knew that to write or even to talk of my travels was to tarnish the achievement I went there to find peace in the hardship of desert travel and the company of desert people No it is not the goal but the way there that matters and the harder the way the worth while the journey Because it exists sums up for me the argument regarding why Thesiger went to the desert at least according to his own account Left out of the narrative but rather obvious from the wiki page of he author is that his travels were most probably sponsored by the British Foreign Office who was interested in the possibilities of moving around the Arabian Peninsula in case of future conflicts and by the big oil companies who were beginning their involvmement in exploration and exploitation of the valuable resource I ll get back to the oil laterThe memoir is important to me for two reasons firstly Thesiger is not only a daring explorer but also a suprisingly articulate and lyrical writer I believe only St Exupery surpasses him when it comes to the spiritual joy the desert awakens in the a man who finds himself hundreds of miles away from the nearest inhabited land He has included in his present memoir not only the hardships of the travel and the dry enumeration of places and distances and weather reports but the history of the peninsula the way the climate and the economic issues had shaped the culture of the nomadic herders the political changes brought about by the liberation from the Ottoman Empire and the subseuent creation of national Arab states the balance between personal vendettas among the tribes and larger mmovements by the most powerful sheiks Last but not least Thesiger is a good photographer working well with black and white film to capture the desert landscape the pure bred camels the faces of the tribesmen and the cities on the coast Next morning while we were leading our camels down a steep dune face I was suddenly conscious of a low vibrant hum which grew in volume until it sounded as though an aeroplane were flying low over our heads The frightened camels plunged about tugging at their head ropes and looking back at the slope above us The sound ceased when we reached the bottom This was he singing of the sands The Arabs describe it as a roaring which is perhaps a descriptive word During the five years that I was in these parts I only heard it half a dozen times It is caused I think by one layer of sand slipping over another secondly the world depicted in the book is one on the verge of extinction By going native dressing in local garb speaking the local dialect sharing the work the food and the campfire with his Bedu guides Thesiger has imersed himself completely in a culture that was already under attack from sheiks cracking down on raiders who got their wealth from attacking caravans or stealing other tribes camels from the extended draught that reduced drastically the areas of pasture in the desert from outside money pouring in that made the camel based economy travel milk meat bankrupt I don t know if the author showed amazing powers of clairvoyance or he simply put in the text written some 10 years after the journeys later information about the effect of petrodollars pouring in and drastically changing the Gulf states social order but he predicted the marginalization and the destitution of the nomads lifestyle that had endured unchanged for millenia I realized that the Bedu with whom I had lived and travelled and in whose company I had found contentment were doomed Some people maintain that they will be better off when they have exchanged the hardship and poverty of the desert for the security of a materialistic world This I do not believe I shall always remember how often I was humbled by those illiterate herdsmen who possessed in so much greater measure than I generosity and courage endurance patience and lighthearted gallantry Among no other people have I ever felt the same sense of personal inferiority There is something of the outdated noble savage Romantic outlook I m thinking of Feni Cooper and the last of the Mohicans in the above uote but the arguments Thesiger brings in support of his thesis are convincing and often heartbreaking Most of the remaining bookmarks I have from the memoir deal not so much with the beauty of the desert but with the respect and the admiration of the author for the integrity the endurance and the hospitality of his companions on the journey I would encourage any reader who wants to really understand the culture of the Gulf Arabs the importance of religion of traditions and of family ties to pick up the book and read it before applying the usual labels of religious fanaticism and blind hatredThesiger doesn t try to lionize the Bedu He is one of the first to admit that their culture is a violent one that their temperament is fiery and suspicious of strangers that they are prideful uick to anger and unforgiving to their enemies The highest respect around the campfire is for the famous raiders who laugh in the face of death After a pause he said By God he was a man He knew how to fight I thought he would kill us all He told us that in this raid the Mishas had killed fourteen Yam and captured a hundred and thirty camels and that nine Mishas had been killed But the same people are uneual in the world when it comes to loyalty generosity integrity A Bedu would give the shirt on his back to another man just because he thinks the other needs it than him he would cut down a camel for visitors and feed them even if he knows he may starve in the next weeks he would never turn away a traveller from his campfire at night The nomads would chat all day about their favorite camel would laugh and joke about their empty waterskins and rice bags would burst into song when you least expect it God endures foreverThe life of man is shortThe Pleiades are overheadThe Moon s among the stars Thesiger finds peace and contenment and spiritual solace among some of the poorest people in the world He looks at his civilized compatriots with a critical eye for taking life for granted and feels at home shivering under a thin blanket with an empty stomach and lips parched by thirst I wondered why people ever cluttered up their rooms with furniture for this bare simplicity seemed to me infinitely preferable I had everything that I could want food shelter and good company after long days upon the road and in another place Here life moved in time with the past These people still valued leisure and courtesy and conversation They did not live their lives at second hand dependent on cinema and wireless He finds praise even for the style of leadership in the tribes A Bedu sheikh has no paid retainers on whom he can rely to carry out his orders He is merely the first among euals in a society where every man is intensely independent and uick to resent any hint of autocracy His authority depends in consuence on the force of his own personality and on his skill in handling men His position in the tribe in fact resembles that of a chairman of a committee meeting Not all of the the pages in the book deal with the Empty uarter In between forays into the sand dunes salt marshes and rubble plains Thesiger spends some time in cities and accomodating places I ve been to one of them myself on a day trip by car Taif in Saudi Arabia is a mountain town where they have now some very good farms and orchards and even some tourist attractions The land is less arrid than usual for the region and the people are still hospitable and talkative The other place I recognized is Abu Dhabi but the town of today has little similarity withthe one in the book We stayed for twenty days in Abu Dhabi a small town of about two thousand inhabitants Each morning the Sheikhs visited us walking slowly across from he castle Shakhbut a stately figure in a black cloak a little ahead of his brothers followed by a throng of armed retainers we talked for an hour or drinking coffee and eating sweets and after they had left us we visited the market where we sat cross legged in the small shops gossipping and drinking coffee or we wandered along the beach and watched the dhows being caulked and treated with shark oil to prepare them for the pearling season the children bathing in the surf and the fishermen landing their catch It s probably non debatable that affluence brought by oil has improved the lifestyle of most of the people in the region but I can t help being nostalgic and sad about the loss of cultural diversity and the preponderence of materialistic considerations in today s world The last picture is one I took on my return from Taif Red Skies Falling (Skybound, explore the deserts of Arabia travelin. Wilfred Thesiger was born a few centuries too late given his William (Enemies to Lovers, enterprising spirit and his thirst for the pristine lands untouched by human development His is the temperament and the dogged determination that had led men to reject the comfort of home and the perks of civilized society and prefer to sweat and toil in the harshest climates for no other reason that the maps showed a blank space in that region Empires were built by men like Thesiger driven by the need to claim to be the first to set foot on that mountain peak or that Southern Pole or that uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere It is also true that one of the less From Irenaeus to Grotius endearing characteristic of these British A May to December Romance explorers is their ability to ignore the local populations that lived in those same places for millenia Only the European foot counted in their history books Wilfred Thesiger is the Herman Hertzberger explorations were concerned almost as much with getting to know and becoming integrated with the local tribes as they were about the physical distances travelled I will get back to thisBy the time he finished his Family Secrets education 1930 s most of white spots on the maps had dissapeared with only the most forbidding lands still putting in a claim to virgin integity the summit of the Everest the Mariana Trench the ian jungles Thesiger set his sights on the desert A childhood spent in Abbysinia and a few years Wolves Among Sheep exploring the Sahara and the Horn of Africa prepared him for the biggest challenge of all Rub al Khali also known as the Empty uarter the most desolate land on the whole planet In Africa he learned how to spend a whole day perched on the high and uncomfortable saddle of a camel how to Writing Fight Scenes endure the heat and the thirst and the frozen nights how to speak Arabic the common language across the whole Muslim world Arabian Sands is the account of his five years between 1945 and 1950 spent crossing the Empty uarter in the traditional way guided by local Bedu tribesmen without mechanized transport or modern communication devices carrying all the water and the food on the back of camels For me Włosy Mamy exists sums up for me the argument regarding why Thesiger went to the desert at least according to his own account Left out of the narrative but rather obvious from the wiki page of he author is that his travels were most probably sponsored by the British Foreign Office who was interested in the possibilities of moving around the Arabian Peninsula in case of future conflicts and by the big oil companies who were beginning their involvmement in Caring for Victor exploration and Un matrimonio americano (AdN) (Adn Alianza De Novelas) exploitation of the valuable resource I ll get back to the oil laterThe memoir is important to me for two reasons firstly Thesiger is not only a daring Omkara explorer but also a suprisingly articulate and lyrical writer I believe only St Exupery surpasses him when it comes to the spiritual joy the desert awakens in the a man who finds himself hundreds of miles away from the nearest inhabited land He has included in his present memoir not only the hardships of the travel and the dry AMSG enumeration of places and distances and weather reports but the history of the peninsula the way the climate and the Who Killed Hazel Drew? economic issues had shaped the culture of the nomadic herders the political changes brought about by the liberation from the Ottoman Empire and the subseuent creation of national Arab states the balance between personal vendettas among the tribes and larger mmovements by the most powerful sheiks Last but not least Thesiger is a good photographer working well with black and white film to capture the desert landscape the pure bred camels the faces of the tribesmen and the cities on the coast Next morning while we were leading our camels down a steep dune face I was suddenly conscious of a low vibrant hum which grew in volume until it sounded as though an aeroplane were flying low over our heads The frightened camels plunged about tugging at their head ropes and looking back at the slope above us The sound ceased when we reached the bottom This was he singing of the sands The Arabs describe it as a roaring which is perhaps a descriptive word During the five years that I was in these parts I only heard it half a dozen times It is caused I think by one layer of sand slipping over another secondly the world depicted in the book is one on the verge of A Whole New League (Briarwood High Book 2) extinction By going native dressing in local garb speaking the local dialect sharing the work the food and the campfire with his Bedu guides Thesiger has imersed himself completely in a culture that was already under attack from sheiks cracking down on raiders who got their wealth from attacking caravans or stealing other tribes camels from the Since I Died extended draught that reduced drastically the areas of pasture in the desert from outside money pouring in that made the camel based Not Pulling Out 2 economy travel milk meat bankrupt I don t know if the author showed amazing powers of clairvoyance or he simply put in the text written some 10 years after the journeys later information about the Driving on the Edge effect of petrodollars pouring in and drastically changing the Gulf states social order but he predicted the marginalization and the destitution of the nomads lifestyle that had El Socialismo Historico Altoaragones endured unchanged for millenia I realized that the Bedu with whom I had lived and travelled and in whose company I had found contentment were doomed Some people maintain that they will be better off when they have Dont Call Me Coach exchanged the hardship and poverty of the desert for the security of a materialistic world This I do not believe I shall always remember how often I was humbled by those illiterate herdsmen who possessed in so much greater measure than I generosity and courage Obłok Magellana endurance patience and lighthearted gallantry Among no other people have I Destinys Need ever felt the same sense of personal inferiority There is something of the outdated noble savage Romantic outlook I m thinking of Feni Cooper and the last of the Mohicans in the above uote but the arguments Thesiger brings in support of his thesis are convincing and often heartbreaking Most of the remaining bookmarks I have from the memoir deal not so much with the beauty of the desert but with the respect and the admiration of the author for the integrity the Gabe (Alvarez Security enemies The highest respect around the campfire is for the famous raiders who laugh in the face of death After a pause he said By God he was a man He knew how to fight I thought he would kill us all He told us that in this raid the Mishas had killed fourteen Yam and captured a hundred and thirty camels and that nine Mishas had been killed But the same people are uneual in the world when it comes to loyalty generosity integrity A Bedu would give the shirt on his back to another man just because he thinks the other needs it than him he would cut down a camel for visitors and feed them Tony (Alvarez Security even if he knows he may starve in the next weeks he would never turn away a traveller from his campfire at night The nomads would chat all day about their favorite camel would laugh and joke about their The Simon Iff Stories & Other Works empty waterskins and rice bags would burst into song when you least Polish-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary expect it God The Best Interface Is No Interface endures foreverThe life of man is shortThe Pleiades are overheadThe Moon s among the stars Thesiger finds peace and contenment and spiritual solace among some of the poorest people in the world He looks at his civilized compatriots with a critical James Fitzjames eye for taking life for granted and feels at home shivering under a thin blanket with an Contemporary Poetry empty stomach and lips parched by thirst I wondered why people Sweet 16 ever cluttered up their rooms with furniture for this bare simplicity seemed to me infinitely preferable I had Chasing Vermeer (Chasing Vermeer, even for the style of leadership in the tribes A Bedu sheikh has no paid retainers on whom he can rely to carry out his orders He is merely the first among Something Wonderful (Sequels, euals in a society where Men In Petticoats every man is intensely independent and uick to resent any hint of autocracy His authority depends in consuence on the force of his own personality and on his skill in handling men His position in the tribe in fact resembles that of a chairman of a committee meeting Not all of the the pages in the book deal with the Empty uarter In between forays into the sand dunes salt marshes and rubble plains Thesiger spends some time in cities and accomodating places I ve been to one of them myself on a day trip by car Taif in Saudi Arabia is a mountain town where they have now some very good farms and orchards and Jungle Fever (Jessicas Seduction even some tourist attractions The land is less arrid than usual for the region and the people are still hospitable and talkative The other place I recognized is Abu Dhabi but the town of today has little similarity withthe one in the book We stayed for twenty days in Abu Dhabi a small town of about two thousand inhabitants Each morning the Sheikhs visited us walking slowly across from he castle Shakhbut a stately figure in a black cloak a little ahead of his brothers followed by a throng of armed retainers we talked for an hour or drinking coffee and Bride for a Night eating sweets and after they had left us we visited the market where we sat cross legged in the small shops gossipping and drinking coffee or we wandered along the beach and watched the dhows being caulked and treated with shark oil to prepare them for the pearling season the children bathing in the surf and the fishermen landing their catch It s probably non debatable that affluence brought by oil has improved the lifestyle of most of the people in the region but I can t help being nostalgic and sad about the loss of cultural diversity and the preponderence of materialistic considerations in today s world The last picture is one I took on my return from Taif

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Arabian Sands

G among peoples who had never seen a European and considered it their duty to kill Christian infidels His now classic account is invaluable to understanding the modern Middle Eas. Thesiger s book is about a time right after many people thought most of the great adventures had already been had and right before the frontiers of the desert sands were truly closed off The book was one man s love affair with the hardship of desert sand and the people who had called it their home the Bedu I came to this book at a strange time At a time when one journey was ending and another beginning Strangely I didn t know what to make of the journey that had just ended I doubted sincerely that it had made me a better person Thesiger s book made me rethink that It made me see parts of Arabia as he saw them in the past the way the Bedu s lifestyle came out of the spirit of the desert So many of my own thoughts found expression in Thesiger s words So many of the sentences and paragraphs rang true I wanted colour and savagery hardship and adventure p 32 he writes Perhaps I could only have these things mediated through Thesiger s book I understand these aspirations a little As I watched the movie Into the Wild I understood the impulse even though I also knew it could end in tragedy How many times did Thesiger s tale almost end in tragedy but didn t A week after reading this book I still remember the great pleasure it gave me whenever I sat down to eat or drink something There are long passages in the book when the author and his compatriots are starving in the desert As Thesiger writes we seldom spoke of sex for starving men dream of food not women and our bodies were generally too tired to lust p 113 After reading twenty or thirty pages I would sit down to a simple meal and delight in it in ways I wouldn t have expected There are also gems in the book that are as relevant today as they were so many years ago Thesiger also has the advantage of being able to write bluntly and without reservation in tones and turns of phrases that modern authors might hesitate to use On Arab governance Thesiger writes Arabs rule but do not administer Their government is intensely individualistic and is successful or unsuccessful according to the degree of fear and respect which the ruler commands and his skill in dealing with the individual men Founded on an individual life their government is impermanent and liable to end in chaos at any moment To Arab tribesmen this system is comprehensible and acceptable and its success or failure should not be measured in terms of efficiency and justice as judge by Western standards To these tribesmen security can be bought too dearly by loss of individual freedom p 46 There is a great deal of sympathy in this passage and it is the blunt truth as Thesiger knows it but I hadn t read anything like it until I read Arabian Sands There are three are several other passages I wish to share with you Passages that I think will make you want to read this book it seemed that the evil that comes with sudden change would far outweigh the good p 77 But I knew that for me the hardest test would be to live with them in harmony and not to let my impatience master me neither to withdraw into myself nor to become critical of standards and ways of life different from my own p 126 It is characteristic of Bedu to do things by extremes to be either wildly generous or unbelievably mean very patient or almost hysterically excitable to be incredibly brave or to panic for no apparent reason p 150 I thought once again how precarious was the existence of the Bedu Their way of life naturally made them fatalists so much was beyond their controlThey did what they could and no people were self reliant but if things went wrong they accepted their fate without bitterness and with dignity as the will of God p 200 I read this book on a beach somewhere far away from the deserts of Arabia In the warm embrace of a beach I once called home with mojitos aplenty and the company of others I regretted little thought warm thoughts of friends and colleagues past and looked forward to future adventures I put this book down and moved on eagerly to another

Characters Arabian Sands

Arabian Sands is Wilfred Thesiger's record of his extraordinary journey through the parched Empty uarter of Arabia Educated at Eton and Oxford Thesiger was repulsed by the softne. I like to browse through my books on a Sunday morning for some strange reason and came across this book that I read when I was working in Saudi Arabia and as I had also met the bedouin and taken tea with them I was interested to hear about Thesiger s travels in that country It s such an interesting study of the Saudi culture by a travel writer and also an explorer such as Thesiger and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Middle EastIt s also good to see that this book is still so readily available I couldn t see it on Kindle but Penguin issued it in paperback as part of their Penguin classics series in 2008Classics like this are such a joy to read


10 thoughts on “Arabian Sands

  1. says:

    It was at school that we were given an excerpt of Arabian Sands to read a passage detailing the peoples who had lurked on the fringes of Arabia Felix without actually controlling it coming across the book at the town library I borrowed it and read onWilfred Thesiger travelled backwards and forwards across the Empty uarter of southern Arabia in the late 1940s and early 50s With the subseuent discovery and ext

  2. says:

    I like to browse through my books on a Sunday morning for some strange reason and came across this book that I read when I was working in Saudi Arabia and as I had also met the bedouin and taken tea with them I was interested to hear about Thesiger's travels in that country It's such an interesting study of the Saudi culture by a travel writer and also an explorer such as Thesiger and I highly recommend it to anyone interested

  3. says:

    “There was a very lovely girl working with the others on the well Her hair was braided except where it was cut in a frin

  4. says:

    Wilfred Thesiger was born a few centuries too late given his enterprising spirit and his thirst for the pristine lands untouched by

  5. says:

    When I first came across this book in the library I was unsuspecting of the journey it would take me on but I find now that I have been on that journey I am all the richer for itWilfred Thesiger was wonderful company as I rolled along on a camel beside him not literally of course taking in the sights of a desert that has long since been tarnished by the westIf you want to learn about the Bedu and indirectly the Arabs then there is no greate

  6. says:

    The Arabist Tradition of Wildred Thesiger “In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions since everything that was not a necessity was an encumbrance” The tragedy was the choice would not be theirs Economic forces beyond their control would eventually drive them into the towns to hang about street corners as unskilled street labour I realised that the Bedu were do

  7. says:

    Thesiger’s book is about a time right after many people thought most of the great adventures had already been had and right before the frontiers of the desert sands were truly closed off The book was one man’s love affair with the hardship of desert sand and the people who had called it their home the Bedu I came to

  8. says:

    The Last of the Barefoot ExplorersWhen I was a kid I dreamt of being an explorer Never mind that I had never been out of New England and had no possibility of doing so Discovering new lands and peoples seemed such a great job What I couldn't figure out was how you got BE an explorer ? What did you take a course someplace ? Once in talking of other things my father happened to remark that there must have been parts of the Maine woods wher

  9. says:

    Before I start I have to declare I was pretty apprehensive about this book and it sat on my shelves for a long time I am a big Thesiger fan and his books are excellent and I find myself limiting my reading of them to one a year I was concerned I wouldn't like this one for a couple of reasons I read a Penguin Great Journeys excerpt book with parts carved from Arabian Sands Across the Empty uarter and didn't lik

  10. says:

    I love travelogues but this one took a while for me to get into Obviously I am not that interested in the arid sandy deserts or in the lives of the people who live there But Thesiger draws me into his story gradually His respect for the people who guided him around the Sands at the height of colonialism his acceptance of cultural differences

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