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

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (1 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857883950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857883954
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 264,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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)

Misadventure in the Middle East is an engaging and highly readable account of a life-changing experience. (Wanderlust)

Hemming offers a refreshing innocence and openness, a voracious appetite for experience and encounter that makes him an honest and empathetic writer. He is funny with it. This is unusual and entertaining. Hemming is a fresh new voice, idealistic, engaging and human. (Justin Marozzi The Spectator)

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)

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, Hemming's book also grapples 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)

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 - The Muslim Lifestyle Magazine)

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)

Book Description

Henry Hemming's extraordinary journey takes him from the drug-fuelled ski-slopes of Iran via some of the region's secret beaches, palaces, army barracks, police cells, nightclubs, torture chambers, brothels and artists' studios to a Fourth of July party with American GIs in one of Saddam's former palaces.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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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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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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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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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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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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