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Misadventure in the Middle East: Travels as Tramp, Artist and Spy Paperback – 1 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (1 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857883950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857883954
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 357,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henry Hemming is the author of 'Misadventure in the Middle East', 'In Search of the English Eccentric', 'Together' and most recently 'Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke: Genius, Fugitive, Spy'. For more, see henryhemming.com

Product Description

Review

'A once-in-a-lifetime journey, full of youthful ebullience and idealism, but self-aware and brave too.' --Colin Thubron, author of Shadow of the Silk Road and The Lost Heart of Asia

'A well written tale of artistic sincerity and youthful bravura.' -- Nigel Tisdall, The Telegraph, 31 March, 2007

'Hemming's insights and observations on crossing borders and
boundaries - whether physical or in the mind - make him an ideal guide. We
need more ambassadors like this.' --Emel, March 2007

Misadventure in the Middle East is an engaging and highly readable account of a life-changing experience. --Wanderlust, March 2007, Book of the Month

From the Publisher

"A once-in-a-lifetime journey, full of youthful ebullience and
idealism, but self-aware too, and brave."
Colin Thubron, author of Shadow of the Silk Road and The Lost Heart of
Asia

"The brilliantly-written account of a daring journey, by turns hilarious
and poignant, and a timely antidote to current misconceptions about the
Middle East. Essential reading."
Jason Elliot, author of Mirrors of the Unseen and An Unexpected Light

"Misadventure in the Middle East is more than a gripping story of a
dangerous expedition. It is a journey of self-discovery and an exploration
of what it is to be an artist in a fractured world."

John Mole, author of It's All Greek To Me! and Mind Your Manners

"A fantastic journey, full of surprising incidents and exciting encounters,
in which you never know where the travellers will end up next.
High-spirited and often amusing, Hemmings' book also grapples seriously
with some of the big issues in the Middle East today."

Nicholas Jubber, author of The Prester Quest and winner of the Dolman Best
First Travel Book Award

Making art his passport, Henry Hemming's year-long travels take him from
the drug-fuelled ski slopes of Iran via the region's souks, mosques,
palaces, army barracks, secret beaches, police cells, nightclubs, torture
chambers, brothels and artists' studios all the way to Baghdad and a Fourth
of July party with GIs in one of Saddam's former palaces. From being
accused of being an Islamic extremist to the Turkish army forcing him to
make portraits of their girlfriends, from dancing in a dervish hideaway to
being interrogated by the secret police as a British spy, Misadventure in
the Middle East reveals an alternative Middle East that flies beneath the
radar of the nightly news bulletins.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Richmond on 11 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a very easy and enjoyable book to read. Hemming had a good idea in this book, and was very fortunate to be presented with such great opportunities, which he's documented in a very amusing and engaging way.

He covered some great countries, of which there is little contemporary travel writing. I'm not quite sure whether the art theme was an after thought to give the story some purpose, but it worked well. Clearly the story isn't about being an artist; it's about travelling around the middle east while the Iraq war looms. All the interesting bits derive from that.

Hemming is clearly well connected, which in fairness he doesn't try to hide. Not too many modern travel writers dine with princes and get travel advice from UK ambassadors.

Great book - thoroughly recommended.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ch Sandilands on 31 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

On the one hand, the witty and spirited account of a fascinating journey makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read. On the other hand, Hemming succeeds in his real mission: to paint a balanced picture of the Middle East for readers in Europe. Hemming submerges himself in the communities with which he comes into contact and is able to provide a sketch which is free from the distortions of politics and the media in both Europe and the Middle East. We meet the party-loving, young Iranians who don't want to wage war against the world; we witness acts of enormous kindness from the poorest Muslims to Christians; we hear of Iraqis tired of violence. But we also see the other side: we hear the prejudiced beliefs; meet women repressed by their families; we find corrupt officials.

But the overwhelming reminder deposited by Hemming - even if he never states it explicitly - is that of the basic tenet of global humanity: cultures may be coloured by their identities, but essentially they all have similar values and aspirations at their core. A reminder that could not be more timely, and a reminder needed by many who forget to decouple politics from nations.

An excellent first book by a young author with a bright future.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By m_sassen on 8 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
I'd heard about this art-making journey through the Mid East a while ago, but didn't know that any of the people involved had written a book about it. I've just finished reading Misadventure in the Middle East, Henry Hemming's account of this journey, and think it's brilliant. The best book I've read in a while. It's so much more than your standard travel book - as well as the routine scrapes and near-death encounters, you meet truly fascinating characters, and see pockets of the Middle East that I certainly had no idea about before reading the book. Everywhere he goes, Hemming seems to have a rapport with people he meets. Especially young people. That's what gives this book its edge. It's also very well written, and there's a sensitivity and humour to it all that makes it hard to put down. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Dodds on 1 July 2010
Format: Paperback
Reading "Misadventures" was like savouring a really good meal with old friends - at times emotional, at times funny, always interesting. I read it over a couple of weekends, for once enjoying life inside with A/C while the temperature rages at 50C+ here in the Gulf!

As someone who lives in the Middle East, and has lived in the Near East, I really enjoyed the book and thought Hemming's understanding of complex issues was sensitive and human. There were many beautiful and personal moments touching on art, feminine beauty, friendship, adventure, food, and culture. He sees the people behind the media headlines, making the book stand out against all the often dry and dusty books based on current affairs in this part of the world.

I loved this book - would recommend it to anyone who likes travel writing, adventure stories, and humanity. Thanks, Henry!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Service on 23 April 2007
Format: Paperback
Henry Hemming's style makes this book a pleasure to read.

His mixture of clear, evocative descriptions of the people and places he encounters, their reactions to him and his colleagues - often in the form of verbatim conversations - and his personal thoughts on what is happening around him give the story a warm, personal immediacy. I could often picture myself in the situations he describes, giving similar responses and then, suddenly, my interpretation of the scene would change as he continued. Rarely have I met a travel book that so engaged me on such a personal level.

On a practical level, Hemming's technique of breaking the five chapters into many shorter, bite sized sections make it easy to read and return to if you're interupted.

In summary, Hemming and his friends were in a historic area at a historic time and he records the experience very well. I look forward to reading his descriptions of his future travels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ihu on 23 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
I found this book very entertaining and it gave a very different angle on the life and recent events in the Middle East region. I travel to many of the countries mentioned in the book as a business man, and it was good to read what other Western travelers, who had a chance spend more time in each country and to interact with different parts of the local society, experienced and learned. The author and his friends are British artists, who after university decide to find out first hand what the Arab and Muslim world really are and is it even possible to use such generic terms. They travel with really low budget driving from the UK to the Middle East. The timing of the trip happens to coincide with a period from the build up of the second gulf war to the end of the war itself. The author even visits Baghdad right after the invasion. What I liked especially was the different reactions they received and how the local people saw the West and the war especially. What I would have skipped was the long dialog between the travelers.
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