12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2007
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.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2007
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2007
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!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2010
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!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2007
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2010
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2012
I've just finished this book on my Kindle. I bought it wondering if I'd finish it, oh I finished it and quickly!
It's so well written, you feel what they feel, see what they see, smell...well you have the hang of it now.
Along with being taken on a journey to the Middle East and then through it, you find out what it must be like from the "other side". You "hear" about religions, politics, media involvement and how people act/react to situations they find themselves in. No sides are taken, its left up to you the reader to make any decision if you wish.
Wonderful, such a shame that I came to the last page. I think in a few months time I'll do something I rarely do and that is to reread a book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2007
I was utterly engaged and entertained by Misadventure - it's excellently written, genuine and funny. It is also very eye opening and made me want to up sticks and go travelling.
I highly recommend this - a truly memorable book.
Henry Hemming and his friend Al are twenty-two-year-old art graduates who decide to take a year travelling through (or perhaps towards) "the heart of the Middle East." Their travels take them from the border of the Czech Republic, through Austria, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Israel. They pay their way by making art and holding exhibitions.
In many ways the eye of the artist provides a fresh perception of a Middle East that has no real homogeneity. There are numerous moments of danger but their overwhelming impression is of the warmth and hospitality of the people they meet - and whose homes they often share. At times they have the naivete of their generation but at others their awareness and willingness to learn and understand provide an illuminatimg counterpoint to the picture more often portrayed by the conventional media.
The journey is given a unique frisson by being undertaken during the build-up to, and the completion of, the war against Saddam Hussein. Despite many warnings of danger, they are determined to reach Baghdad and do so only a dew weeks after the ending of hosilities but while there are still nightly gun battles on the streets.
Their ultimate discovery is less about the Middle East than about themsleves and their role in the world as artists. The fact that the author writes so well makes for a most unusual, memorable tale.
on 18 April 2013
This can, at first sight, appear to be just another account by a traveller throught the Middle East. It's saving grace is partly in it's timing - the start of the second Gulf War - and partly because the author is - or at least was - an artist. This does give him a slightly different perspective on things.
He and his friend take a pickup from the UK, and travel through much of the Middle East, creating art, selling some of it, and encountering many people, some artists like themselves. They have the confidence of youth, and get into many situations that others might have avoided. The writing is always straightforward and open, but the author's artistic mind adds something to many situations that might otherwise have been missed.
The problems of the area are never far away; indeed, they account for most of the book. The complex mix of religions and nationalities - completely ignored, or misunderstood by most outside the area - cause confusion and danger. At the end, you are not really any nearer to understanding it all, but at least it adds to an awareness that it is not as simple as any politician would have you believe.
All in all, an interesting read: one of the better travelogues.