on 23 May 2015
But then I am biased. I met Tim Mackintosh-Smith while I was working at the British Embassy in Sana'a in 1990. We became good friends. This book is about one extraordinary man - IB as I call him. Travelling more than 75,000 miles on his Rihla (spiritual journey) he eclipsed the travels of Marco Polo and yet so little is known or spoken of him. In this book Tim transports you the would be traveller back to a time without railways, aircraft and modern communication, back to a far simpler time when we spent time talking with each other, learning about people and not meeting them via social media. Anyone with even a hint of interest in Syria, China, the Arabian Peninsular and many other lands can;t help but be captivated by this extraordinary work. I commend it to you.. [this is my second copy - someone took a fancy to my original one and 'borrowed' it...]
on 25 October 2015
An utterly absorbing book which demands to be read slowly, in small doses. Not a page-turner, but something to be savoured. The author is clearly a master of his field, and his knowledge shines through on every page. But this is no dry erudite tome either there is much humour, which sometimes made me laugh out loud. A truly fascinating tbook on two levels: an exploration of the region today and a deeper examination of Ibn Battuta's fourteenth century periple. A real delight for those interested in such things!
on 4 March 2002
This was a pleasure to read, from cover to cover. Tim Mackintosh-Smith packs every page with scholarly analysis, pithy observations on human nature and a clear sense of deep enjoyment of his journey (even in adversity). His Sana'a home must contain an extraordinary library; the entire book is peppered with insights from across the centuries. Perhaps the most vivid memory - TM-S sighing with contentment as he relaxes to await his next transport with all the true\desert-dweller needs for a happy life: shade, tobacco and cool water. A sage indeed. I can't recommend this too highly.