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Valley of the Casbahs: A Journey Across the Moroccan Sahara Paperback – February 5, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (February 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349115362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349115368
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,313,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Tayler imparts a sense of immediacy to his travels, while reflecting on a nomadic way of life in fast decline. NORTHERN ECHO A delightful and thought-provoking snapshot of Moroccan life. DAILY EXPRESS He vividly recreates his trek, balancing the beauty with the gritty. INK It is easy to see why Tayler counts Bill Bryson amongst his fans GOOD BOOK GUIDE

About the Author

Jeffrey Tayler is a traveller & writer, working for CONDE NAST TRAVELLER, SPIN, HARPER'S MAGAZINE & ATLANTIC MONTHLY. Bill Bryson selected two of his essays for the 1st edition of THE BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING in 2002. He lives in Moscow.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Samos on October 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed many of Jeffrey Tayler's books and thought the subject matter of this book would be interesting, if similar, to another book. Unfortunately "Valley of the Casbahs" is similar because it is the same book as "Glory in a Camel's Eye"- from a different publisher a year later and under a different title. Under any title the book is interesting and entertaining but it is unfortunate there is no other indication of this duplication on this page and now I have two of the same book. Buyer beware.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Martina A. Nicolls on April 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Jeffrey Tayler describes an epic and unique journey following the Draa River in Morocco in 2001 from the source to the sea. He travels in nomadic style with stubborn donkeys and camels and argumentative Berber guides - archetypal wanderers and co-originators of the Islamic civilization.

His previous attempt, fifteen years earlier, after reading Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands, had resulted in near death stranded in a desert storm with no water, food, maps or radio. His predecessor died from lack of water. Determined to follow his dream, he conquers the desert and relates the history of the desert Arabs and the decline of the nomadic way of life: "I found, in the Draa Valley and the Western Sahara, not modernized Bedouin but future residents of tin-shack slums and proud sheikhs humbled by the politics and police of nation-states."

Much of the book is about the Sahara desert and its barren terrain. Here he learns of the various desert terminology: empty land was khla; flat sandy land was ragg; totally flat and empty country was mham; empty rolling country covered with rock was hidban; dunes without vegetation was uruq; dune with mottled scrub was nibka; dune with more than three trees was ghaba (forest); a patch of smooth land where a camel could kneel was mliss and a patch of land where a camel could not kneel was harsh.

Stories of the virtues of simplicity, hospitality, and comradeship throughout his journey make this more than a description of captivating casbahs (Arabic citadels), fortressed villages, labyrinthine corridors and courtyards, and debilitating deserts. After three months traveling the moonscape gorges of the Anti-Atlas Mountains and the denuded dunes, he reaches the silver and white ocean foam of the Atlantic.
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