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A Reed Shaken by the Wind: Travels Among the Marsh Arabs of Iraq Paperback – 28 Nov 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Eland Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (28 Nov. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0907871933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0907871934
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

It is not too much to say that the author has produced an almost perfect book of travel." -- New Yorker

This is prose close to poetry, written by a man of great perception and understanding. -- W.O. Doulgas, New York Times

From the Publisher

First published in 1957 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Maxwell's description of a life now gone forever by the political situation in southern Iraq. This book reads as perhaps, a little warmer than the 'bright water' series. His affinity with the Marsh Arabs shines throught as does his respect of their traditions. Written more than 40 years ago, there is little hint of the troubles to come for the region. Indeed, Maxwell hints that the biggest threat would be general encroahment by the 20th century, if obnly he had known. The book is notable for introducing the reader to the subject that came to dominate Maxwell's life and thus enrapture millions - otters. The book is a must for fans of Maxwell's writing and is an invaluable prequel to "Ring Of Bright Water".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nico on 31 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thoroughly enjoyed reading Maxwell's account of his travels amongst the marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq. Maxwell's description of the physical terrain, and the animals and people who inhabit it, is simply spell-binding. Very sad to think that it has all been destroyed by the likes of Saddam Hussein. Would have been truly wonderful to have enjoyed the experience that Gavin Maxwell had there at the time. As a bonus Maxwell got to travel through the marshes with the doyen of explorers Wilfred Thesiger. They formed an effective if contrasting combination and their travelling relationship provides an interesting sub-text to the overall journey. If you get the chance to read this book take it..
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Lister-Kaye on 4 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
It is sad but inevitable that Gavin Maxwell should be best remembered for the otter trilogy and his multi-million best seller 'Ring of Bright Water'. Sad because excellent though the 'Ring' is, it depicts only a fraction of Maxwell's abilities and interests. Those who have read Douglas Botting's superlative biography, 'Gavin Maxwell - A Life' will know that there was so much more to Maxwell than the otter-loving Scottish recluse. 'A Reed Shaken by the Wind' was only his second book of the twelve he would eventually write. It is autobiographical only in so far as it records his expedition to the Tigris marshes with Wilfred Thesiger; it reveals little of the inner man. But it does vividly demonstrate his skill as an emerging travel writer and an objective geographer and student of third world cultures, for which, of course, he was to win the Heinemann Literary Award.
The book is moving, sensitive and inevitably dated. Events have tragically overtaken the marsh arabs in recent decades, but it stands as an accurate and authoratitive account of a lost world. Interestingly, Thesiger was furious that Maxwell wrote this book and won awards for it. It cooled their friendship for thirty years, but in the fullness of time Thesiger made up for it by publishing his own opus magnus 'The Marsh Arabs', which was to win him accliam all of own as the greated arabist excplorer of the post war period.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John on 31 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
This Gavin Maxwell book is fantastic. It is really well written, moves along and evokes the atmosphere and challenges of the Marsh Arab environment. If you like books about the different Arab cultures this is a must.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sally tarbox TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 5 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback
The first work I have read by Gavin Maxwell, whom I always equated with Scotland and otters; in this account of his time spent with the Marsh Arabs of Iraq (1956), he tells of his first encounters with the animal, in the reedy waterways by the Tigris - and of his discovery of an otter species which was named after him.
But the main part of this work is of the place and the people, as he accompanies experienced adventurer, Wilfred Thesiger, in a reed canoe. staying in the reed homes of local sheikhs, he describes the villages, where each house is 'a tiny island of its own...we could see through their slit doors to firelit interiors where buffaloes shared their warmth with the human family. Not galleons perhaps, but Noah's Arks.'
We read of the huge bird life, the turtles, fish ...and huge numbers of wild pigs, the hunting of which occupies the locals - not for food, but to keep down the numbers of a fierce creature. And of local life - dances, disease, generosity and dishonesty...
Quite poetic at times, Maxwell describes a world which was to practically disappear under Saddam's rule, with the construction of canals - but is now being restored by ecologists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annabel Eigeland on 26 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An amazing book about travels among the Marsh Arabs of Iraq when the region was relatively untouched by outside influences and wars. Books like this should be available in Kindle edition. A lot of the best books around are not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gail Parker on 5 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beautiful, observant, poetic. I was totally captivated by the description of a very different culture. The photographs emphasize just how large the big reed huts were, but also how constrained the living conditions were.
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