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South from Barbary: Along the Slave Routes of the Libyan Sahara Paperback – 30 Jul 2010
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Camel journeys may belong to a bygone era, but the British have long had an affinity with the resilient animals. With South from Barbary, Justin Marozzi becomes the latest writer to follow in the tradition of Wilfred Thesiger and Michael Asher. Having known Libya since a young age, Marozzi set out two years ago to cross the Libyan Sahara by camel. Travelling with a friend, Ned, five camels and a succession of guides, Marozzi crossed 1150 miles of the great desert.
Travel books usually benefit from the author having more than a passing knowledge of a place. Unfortunately, however, although Marozzi's debut is strong on Saharan cultures and early European explorers, he has an awkward prose style that tends to be over-laden with adverbs, adjectives and discordant similes. He also has a rosy-eyed view of the history of British involvement with the slave trade, waxing lyrical over 19th century attempts to suppress the trade while largely ignoring the fact that Britain was the leading beneficiary of the Atlantic trade throughout the 18th century.
That is not to say that the book is without merit. In the second half the story picks up, and the prose becomes less stodgy. The desert journey appears to improve Marozzi's qualities of empathy, and he is never less than honest about the behaviour of Ned and himself. In the end, though, South From Barbary seems to be an opportunity missed. Although Marozzi's work is erudite on Libya's history, room remains for a book that deals more richly with the nature of modern Libya. --Toby Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
'"In one of Tripoli's only English-language bookshops I picked up the book that thrust the desert before me in all its guises. Here was silence and loneliness, the glory of wide African skies, unbroken plains of sand and rock, loyalty and companionship, adventure treachery and betrayal."'
For six years after reading the account of the British North African expedition of 1818-20, Justin Marozzi had longed to cross the Libyan Sahara. Captivated by the beauty of this little-known country on his first visit to Tripoli, he vowed to return to explore its vast desert along the old slave-trade routes. 'South from Barbary' – as nineteenth century Europeans knew North Africa – is the compelling story of his 1,500 – mile journey.
Setting off from Tripoli, Marozzi and his travelling companion, Ned, headed first to the ancient oasis of Ghadames on an improbable mission to purchase camels and find a guide willing to forego the comforts of a four-wheel drive for the hardship of an extended camel trek. Marozzi and Ned had never travelled in the desert, nor had they ridden camels before embarking on this expedition. Encouraged by a series of idiosyncratic Touareg and Tubbu guides, they learnt the full range of desert survival skills, including how to master their five faithful camels.
The caravan of two explorers, five camels with distinctive personalites and their guides undertook a gruelling journey across some of the most inhospitable territory on earth. Despite threats from Libyan officialdom and the ancient natural hardships of the desert, Marozzi and Ned found themselves growing ever closer to the land and its people.
More than a travelogue, 'South from Barbary' is a fascinating history of Saharan exploration and efforts by early British explorers to suppress the African slave trade. It evokes the poetry and solitude of the desert, the companionship of man and beast, the plight of a benighted nation, and the humour and generosity of its resilient people.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
In this book, Marozzi attempts to recreate journeys of camel trains from the interior to the north African coast and he attempts it by camel, even though he has never ridden or led a camel before.
The journey is across Gadaffi's Libya, which is a pretty tricky journey, but he passes deep into the interior and visits cities, towns and oases that are ancient, but much changed in modern Libya. Gadaffi's attempts to modernise have destroyed much and, though a process of dogma and corruption, have left people considerably worse off. Much of it is a sad commentary on political failure and makes you think that we'd be better off without government and rulers.
Marozzi gets his camels and the difficulties he has with them and worries about their welfare, also his developing love for them, is a key part of the book. He also meets some amazing guides and honest, open people who restore your faith in humanity and perhaps give hope that this country will one day be a happy and safe place to live in.
Of course, being an Englishman, he also befriends and feeds a dog, which is called Tuna, and this accompanies him on part of his journey before mysteriously disappearing in one of the larger towns. We'd like to think the dog found a good home, but more likely it was shot.
This is more of a travel book than a history lesson, but Marozzi does cover the history of this part of the world through Carthaginian, Roman, Arab and European colonization.Read more ›
I thoroughly enjoyed Justin's journey along the slave route, and the difficulties he endured. I was also greatly amused how his various acquaintances in the region would drive by to see how he was getting on, whilst he was going through so many trials and problems to continue on his travels.
I fell in love with his camels, and would have liked to know just how they got on after this journey. I wanted to hear a happy ending for these wonderful animals!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best books on the Sahara I've read. Up to date and surprise after surprise. If you really want to know what it's like travelling by camel try this book.Published on 9 Feb. 2013 by Old Zack
A rise through the Sahara is given so much colour and understated humour in this book. It explains well the region, its history and the excitments and difficulties of this unique... Read morePublished on 22 Jan. 2009 by J. Twyman
Mr Marozzi has produced a very sensitive account of a remarkable expedition. Thios book is a perfectly balanced account of his own travels and the history of the region, observed... Read morePublished on 21 May 2001 by Michael Campbell
I have rarely been as suprised or delighted by a book as I was with this one. Delightfully written, with an acute eye and a gentle humour, this first book is a real joy. Read morePublished on 7 May 2001
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