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South from Barbary: Along the Slave Routes of the Libyan Sahara Paperback – 30 Jul 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; (Reissue) edition (30 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006531172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006531173
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 377,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Camel journeys may belong to a bygone era, but the British have long had an affinity with the resilient animals. With South from Barbary, Justin Marozzi becomes the latest writer to follow in the tradition of Wilfred Thesiger and Michael Asher. Having known Libya since a young age, Marozzi set out two years ago to cross the Libyan Sahara by camel. Travelling with a friend, Ned, five camels and a succession of guides, Marozzi crossed 1150 miles of the great desert.

Travel books usually benefit from the author having more than a passing knowledge of a place. Unfortunately, however, although Marozzi's debut is strong on Saharan cultures and early European explorers, he has an awkward prose style that tends to be over-laden with adverbs, adjectives and discordant similes. He also has a rosy-eyed view of the history of British involvement with the slave trade, waxing lyrical over 19th century attempts to suppress the trade while largely ignoring the fact that Britain was the leading beneficiary of the Atlantic trade throughout the 18th century.

That is not to say that the book is without merit. In the second half the story picks up, and the prose becomes less stodgy. The desert journey appears to improve Marozzi's qualities of empathy, and he is never less than honest about the behaviour of Ned and himself. In the end, though, South From Barbary seems to be an opportunity missed. Although Marozzi's work is erudite on Libya's history, room remains for a book that deals more richly with the nature of modern Libya. --Toby Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

'"In one of Tripoli's only English-language bookshops I picked up the book that thrust the desert before me in all its guises. Here was silence and loneliness, the glory of wide African skies, unbroken plains of sand and rock, loyalty and companionship, adventure treachery and betrayal."'

For six years after reading the account of the British North African expedition of 1818-20, Justin Marozzi had longed to cross the Libyan Sahara. Captivated by the beauty of this little-known country on his first visit to Tripoli, he vowed to return to explore its vast desert along the old slave-trade routes. 'South from Barbary' – as nineteenth century Europeans knew North Africa – is the compelling story of his 1,500 – mile journey.

Setting off from Tripoli, Marozzi and his travelling companion, Ned, headed first to the ancient oasis of Ghadames on an improbable mission to purchase camels and find a guide willing to forego the comforts of a four-wheel drive for the hardship of an extended camel trek. Marozzi and Ned had never travelled in the desert, nor had they ridden camels before embarking on this expedition. Encouraged by a series of idiosyncratic Touareg and Tubbu guides, they learnt the full range of desert survival skills, including how to master their five faithful camels.

The caravan of two explorers, five camels with distinctive personalites and their guides undertook a gruelling journey across some of the most inhospitable territory on earth. Despite threats from Libyan officialdom and the ancient natural hardships of the desert, Marozzi and Ned found themselves growing ever closer to the land and its people.

More than a travelogue, 'South from Barbary' is a fascinating history of Saharan exploration and efforts by early British explorers to suppress the African slave trade. It evokes the poetry and solitude of the desert, the companionship of man and beast, the plight of a benighted nation, and the humour and generosity of its resilient people.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By luke.dunn@lineone.net on 8 May 2001
Format: Hardcover
An interesting tapestry of small details flowers within the book. There is a sense of ordinary humanity in the author, with no self-importance at all, and the very subtle humour of everyday events made me laugh out loud. The eccentric travelling companion Ned, the disorganised Libyans, the grouchy camels - all combine well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read Justin Marozzi on Heroditus (The Man Who Invented History) and on Tamurlaine (Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World) and he combines two of my favourite genres - history and travel writing. Marozzi's USP is that he walks the land that his historical figures walked and looks at what remains of their legacy. It's a neat trick.
In this book, Marozzi attempts to recreate journeys of camel trains from the interior to the north African coast and he attempts it by camel, even though he has never ridden or led a camel before.
The journey is across Gadaffi's Libya, which is a pretty tricky journey, but he passes deep into the interior and visits cities, towns and oases that are ancient, but much changed in modern Libya. Gadaffi's attempts to modernise have destroyed much and, though a process of dogma and corruption, have left people considerably worse off. Much of it is a sad commentary on political failure and makes you think that we'd be better off without government and rulers.
Marozzi gets his camels and the difficulties he has with them and worries about their welfare, also his developing love for them, is a key part of the book. He also meets some amazing guides and honest, open people who restore your faith in humanity and perhaps give hope that this country will one day be a happy and safe place to live in.
Of course, being an Englishman, he also befriends and feeds a dog, which is called Tuna, and this accompanies him on part of his journey before mysteriously disappearing in one of the larger towns. We'd like to think the dog found a good home, but more likely it was shot.
This is more of a travel book than a history lesson, but Marozzi does cover the history of this part of the world through Carthaginian, Roman, Arab and European colonization.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Aug. 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a charming book - amusing, romantic and through Mr Marozzi's skilful prose, stunningly real and touchingly humane. He has an interesting style that is modern yet at the same time delightfully archaic and without a hint of pomposity or vulgarity. In combining his experiences with fitting references to works and comments from past explorers, he manages to recapture the spirit of British exploration and adventure with erudition and humour. In short, I found this book fascinating and inspirational.
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By Nico on 2 April 2014
Format: Paperback
This was a good travel that is well worth reading. Justin Marozzi describes the trip he and a friend make through the Libyan desert on Camel with great style and a good smattering of humour. He also provides enough historical and political detail on Libya to set the scene and context of the journey. Well worth reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Euan Whosearmy on 3 May 2001
Format: Hardcover
Loved the book -- enthralling and enlightening. Also funny. Having very limited first hand experience of the appalling discomfort of riding on camel-back their journey was also an admirable achievement.
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