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Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes by [Clark, Victoria]
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Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Review

"The West would do well to take one precaution and read Victoria Clark's excellent new book on the country, part history and part travelogue. Clark leads the reader through Yemen's turbulent past with humor and perception."--Richard Beeston, London Times

"Her book is a lively mix of politics, travelogue and history . . . Easily the best and most readable account of Yemen's current problems and their daunting complexity. Clark brings the story right up to date."--Brian Whitaker, The Guardian


"Ms. Clark paints a more nuanced picture . . . The author illustrates her analysis with a string of vignettes drawn from her intrepid journeys into the remotest parts of the country . . . This book is compulsory reading for anyone who wants to get to grips with Yemen's pit of slithery serpents."--The Economist


"An experienced foreign correspondent casts a timely light on the complex fissiparous, impoverished country now seen as a haven for Al-Qaeda."--Harry Eyres, Financial Times

"Dancing on the Heads of Snakes makes Yemen's history and contemporary affairs accessible to the general reader. Clark tracks Yemen's turbulent past and unstable present with a light touch, combining historical travelogue with investigative reportage. . . . Dancing on the Heads of Snakes is a commendable addition to the canon of literature on Yemen and does what many previous books have failed to do: open up knowledge of a complex and often forgotten country to a much wider audience."-- Philip McCrum, Middle East International


"Untangling Yemen's history before examining the country's role in both Al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement today, [Victoria Clark] presents an up-to-date account of a state that ought to be better known."--Fred Rhodes, Middle East
"Skillful political analysis . . . The text, backed by numerous references and an excellent bibliography, will engage even those readers who are unacquainted with Yemen, its history and today's complexities. . . . an entertaining masterpiece of reportage and analysis."--Michael Crouch, Melbourne Historical Journal
"A clear, immensely absorbing introduction to Yemen's complicated history and opaque politics."--Owen Bennett-Jones, BBC World Service

About the Author

Victoria Clark is a former correspondent and Moscow bureau chief for the Observer. She now works as a freelance journalist and writer, contributing to the Independent, Prospect magazine, and the Tablet.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 869 KB
  • Print Length: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (18 Feb. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00371V7KG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #73,417 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating insight into the centuries of history behind the current conflict.
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Format: Paperback
This is an example of how Victoria Clark introduces a sub-chapter (President Salih's present problems). And indeed throughout her exploration of Yemen's history and character she really allows the reader to comprehend the hardy tribalism, the extreme violence fed by so much easy weaponry, the jihadist roots, the buffeting by outside forces, the corruption and poverty, the surprisingly dogged optimism, the Islamic variations, the scandalous qat cultivation ... it is all there. She explains why Aden is "the Cinderella of the East", how the various rebellions reoccur, why separation is still on some tribe's agenda, how Marxism took root here only to fail, and importantly why there is such an economic gulf separating Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The format is colourful and easy to read. The State and The Tribes: "the manner in which the competing authorities are constantly being challenged, tested and renegotiated" gives the book its superb title. I would have liked more informative maps and more photos, but the geography is explained well. I took this book on a recent holiday to Morocco and I was know as "Mr Yemen" because I always had this book with me (and open!).
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Format: Paperback
Dancing on Heads of Snakes,

The book tells you what is really going on The Yemen.

Author travels around speak with high ranking tribal officials and government officials - anyone who wants to know history of Yemen and where is Yemen going, then buy this book it's worth every single pound.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Victoria Clark's deeply personal study of Yemen is in part a history, in part a travel memoir, and in full a complete study of the Yemen of today that no observer of the Middle East should be without.
To answer the most important question first, is this book rendered irrelevant by recent events such as the Houthi coup d'etat and subsequent Saudi airstrikes? To answer bluntly, no.
Yemen's woes and internal fracturing run deep, in both the country's history of division and separate directions under the Imamate of the North, and British Colony of the South, to the subsequent Nasserist North and Marxist South, to the graft and tribal politics of today.
The book begins partly as a travel memoir, opening with an interview of Osama Bin Laden's former bodyguard, and then transferring to a twentieth century history of Yemen. Working from the unity in 1990, it unfolds into a rich and varied study of the Yemen of today, encompassing economy, politics and societal issues.
Toward the end focus turns to the former President, Ali Abdullah Salih, and how he is both part of the problem as he is the solution. Nothing is entirely clear with Mr Salih, at first one gets a picture of a corrupt soldier turned politician who thrives on graft and cronyism, to a skilled administrator who deeply understands Yemen's tribal politics, to perhaps the most Liberal leader in the modern Middle East, who permitted a climate of free expression inconceivable in any of Yemen's Northern Neighbors.
Victoria Clark has an unusual narrative, as the text frequently changes between the present conversation being recalled, and the overall narrative, but this work is perhaps 20% travel memoir, 80% historical and sociological study.
What matters is that Victoria Clark has written a book that is both immensely readable and informative. It is a true pleasure to read, and one comes away from it with a much better understanding, and indeed, sympathy, toward this beautiful yet misunderstood land.
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Format: Paperback
Clark's was one of the books I bought before my posting to Yemen. Comparing hers to those other books, the greatest achievement of the author is putting Yemen's history and present in a very digestable, easy-to-read and, I would say, cosy framework. It is not overloaded with details (at the exepnse of comprehensive and accurancy, no doubts) but this broad-brush picture allows one to form a holistic impression of Yemen. This favorably compares this book to others, such as Dresch's A History of Modern Yemen (which I also bought). Dresch's book may be a useful source of academic information about Yemen but I would not recommend it to a novice like myself. With so many fine details, names and places,I failed to get a picture of the country: it well may be somewhere there but you simply can't see the forest for the trees.

Despite being essentially a travel book, Clark's book is suprisingly well researched for this kind of a book, and the author introduces statistics and other less easily digestable stuff in a very natural and unobtrusive manner. Some reviewers have noted that the author seems to be gossiping at times, and this is true. It is this gossip however - an authentic gossip, I should add - that makes this book particularly interesting because it provides you with the feeling of the country, not just cut and dried facts. Yes, this is exactly what people (=men) are talking about during afternoon qat chewing sessions. This is what I hear from my Yemeni friends and colleagues. I only wish the author could integrate women's perspective to a greater degree: this is still a world to which we, men (particularly expats), have very little access.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This excellent book deals with the the history of Yemen and how the present situation in the cocntry developed.
The history is divided into four a)1539-1918 b)1918-1967 c)1967-1990 and d)1990-2000.All the revolutions,assassinations,murders,developments of communism in the south and eventual unification are well documeented.
The second part records the development of problems with Al-Queda and terrorism.This section is very well written and erudite and the aauthor is to be congratulated.
Ther is a good bibliography and notes section but the pictures are of poor quality.
A book to be highly recommended.
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