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on 21 March 2008
This tremendously well written book tells the story of the author's life in Morocco, which is used as the frame for the retelling of several great Arabian stories from Arabian Nights and other legend. Not only impossible to put down, this book also feels like a magical story book which sweeps you back in time through oriental history and fantasy.
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on 10 August 2008
This delightful book explores the ancient living tradition of storytelling that bridges East and West. Somehow this ancient oral skill seems to survive within contemporary Moroccan society at many more liberal levels of profoundity than we of the West can usually imagine. It is the contrast between the known and the unknown that Shah, like his father and grandfather, also both writers, so eloquently delivers to our minds. This is the work of a rare multi-culturalist, speaking to our hearts.
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on 23 July 2009
A most entertaining,fascinating and absorbing read - one of those books that one looks forward to climbing into bed to read.
I completely immersed myself in Casablanca and in the authors family life, and feel that I have learnt a lot too about Morocco and its beliefs and manners.
I bought The Caliphs House at the same time and read them simultaneously as I couldnt get enough of the atmosphere that Tahir Shah creates.
The characters are so well formed that you feel that you would recognise them if you bumped into them on the street.
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on 2 June 2009
This is a great book from Tahir Shah and I think his best book to date. It seems as if he's growning into his own shoes at last - and with such a prestigious heritage behind him he must have found it difficult to even find his own shoes! So I see him now in a new light and not just as his father's son (his father was Sayeed Idries Shah - the great Sufi writer and storyteller) but as someone struggling with his own weaknesses as we all are and being very honest in a very self-depracating way. So if anyone hasn't read anything of his before but has an interest in Self development and the link between this material world and the world of the mystical - then you will not be disappointed in this lovely, beautifully written magical book.
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on 11 November 2010
"A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams" is the subtitle of this extraordinary book. Tahir Shah was brought up to understand that, when his father is dead, it will be his responsibility to keep alive and pass on the teaching with which he has been endowed. He knows it was not his father's intention that he should simply regurgitate what was written and told to him. What was required was much more subtle and needed his own journey of discovery, through a state he calls "Morocco." He finds energy, wisdom and guidance in dreams, Sufi teaching stories, remembrance of time spent with his father and fragments of their conversations, as well as from the people he meets in everyday life. There are obstacles, like his own ambition, to be overcome; and qualities, like a sense of selflessness, to be cultivated before the baton can be passed on.
This is a liberating book, one that promotes creativity, at a time when neuroscientists are beginning to realise the limitations of Consciousness. It is enhanced by Michael Greer's map and the detailed, but ethereal, interior illustrations of Laetitia Bermejo.
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on 17 May 2009
Fascinating window into another culture. Tahir Shah is a dream of a writer - funny, wise, self-deprecating and with an acute sense of how to draw the reader along with him. This glimpse of the Eastern art of story-telling will make you want more, and his Teh Caliph's House is a god place to go next - or first.
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on 20 April 2008
Tahir Shah continues his sequence of high calibre books. This book is clearly underwritten by a genuine love of Morocco and is very much written from the heart. It has depths which repay frequent re-reading and certainly reinspired my own interest in teaching stories and their functions as well as evoking a desire to visit Morocco(I hasten to add not as a tourist). A tremendous book from a man who is perhaps trying to help bridge at least two worlds.
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on 2 November 2009
When I recommended my partner should read this, the second of Shah's books bought on Amazon, they picked it up and found it very hard to put down. An adventure, believably fact but I don't think it falls short of slight embellishment. Different culture, language, work ethic and a way of life steeped with superstition and weird and wonderful customs made his journeys (and himself) seem a little like a modern day Indiana Jones. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this convoluted tale and can highly recommend it to everyone.
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on 21 March 2009
This book takes up where The Caliph's House left off, and continues to chart the adventures of the Shah household and its colourful guardians. There is a fascinating new element in this one though - after hearing of the Berber belief that for each person there is a 'story of the heart', Shah crisscrosses Morocco in search of storytellers and tales. The result - a fascinating tale in itself, many-layered and resonant.
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on 2 October 2013
In searching for his story, Tahir Shah produces a pretty formidable and unusual volume on the tradition of storytelling in Morocco interwoven by the tensions of his family's adjustment to life in Fes and the spiritual goings-on in Dar Kalifa. His writing is intelligent and highly descriptive, but misses the mark a little. At one point, I was really quite drawn into the story after an initial difficulty, while toward the end, I drifted a while. In all, I felt the book was a real achievement, and niggling to me, I should've liked it more!

First, we have a unique theme for a book (storytelling) which was, in theory, an ingenious vehicle for transmitting the essence of Morocco that one may wish from a current travel book - I definitely learned something of Morocco's past AND present in reading it. Tahir makes intelligent and deep observations, and is a likeable character (though at times submitting too much to his servants, I felt!). However, sometimes the traditional stories told just left me hanging there - Without some cultural commentary, I wasn't sure what to take from many of the stories, and there's only so much dangling one can take before you decide you don't want to climb again.

I think possibly the book's sheer intensity overall combined with repeated splicing and cuts back to a former scene or story made it a little hard going (and a bit too clever for itself) for me on more than one occasion. It might've benefited from more `...'s and new paragraphs to elicit a sense of paced timing at times. Also, I felt there was some repetitiveness in the `tell' and `sell' of traditional storytelling later on. I definitely appreciate the meaning-making of a good old-fashioned story and the finding of one's own story resonates with me too, but I fear the book tried to be too many things just slightly and left me with many forgettable stories in a mystical house. Perhaps a more attractive book to those inclined toward more fantasy-style stories where characters loom slightly larger than life.
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