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Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia Paperback – January 1, 1992
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Horwitz has the touch, the ability to astutely capture the ludicrous essence of an experience while filling in all the pertinent socio-historic details. He chews qat with the Yemenis, plays soccer with the Sudanese Dinka refugees and listens to an endless refrain of "You are the perfume of Iraq, oh Saddam" in Baghdad. Horwitz' eye and wit are equally sharp, and his book is an exceptionally good read. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Horwitz ( One for the Road , Random, 1988), now a Wall Street Journal reporter, covered the Middle East in the late 1980s and returned to Baghdad in August 1990 following the invasion of Kuwait. With a sense of humor and eye for detail, he presents the turbulent Middle East from the vantage point of the "man in the street," whom we meet in traditional Yemeni villages, sophisticated Cairo, regimented Libya, disintegrating Sudan, a luxury hotel in the United Arab Emirates, and a seedy Baghdad nightclub. Among other adventures, the author attends the funeral of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran. A Jewish American, he shows empathy for Arabs in the Middle East. The Kuwait crisis will focus attention on the two chapters on Iraq. In comparison with Christopher Dickey's Ex pats ( LJ 6/15/90) and Charles Glass's Tribes with Flags ( LJ 4/1/90), Horwitz's book better captures the point of view of the average person and covers more territory, omitting only Syria from his itinerary. A valuable and timely acquisition for public libraries.
- James Rhodes, Luther Coll . , Decorah, Ia.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Horwitz's wife, Geraldine Brooks, became a foreign correspondent stationed in Cairo, and Horwitz (an unemployed writer) decided to join her and write freelance stories as he traveled through 15 countries and emirates throughout the Middle East. The author likes to look for the offbeat, and he went to camel races in the UAE, ate qat in Yemen, watched belly dancers in Cairo who weren't allowed to show their bellies, and tried to get around Baghdad without a map (Hussein's paranoia kept maps and weather reports from being published). He also touched on more serious topics as he dodged mines in the Persian Gulf, traveled to the Ayatollah's funeral in Iran, navigated the Jordan River between Israel and Jordan, priced weapons in Yemen and witnessed horrible conditions in the Sudan. But what Horwitz does best is talk to people, and he found a surprising number of Arabs who were willing to share their stories (not necessarily an easy job for a Jewish writer). This is how Horwitz was able to discover the true complexities of the Middle East. For instance,when in Tehran, he found "that there were two completely separate cities, one poor and devout, the other bourgeois and disenchanted. North Tehranis were frozen in time, like White Russians or French monarchists, left on the sidelines by the revolution."
Baghdad Without a Map is just about the perfect book, but one thing would have made it even better--and that is the inclusion of photographs. In fact, this is a criticism I have of almost all of Horwitz's books. But other than that, Baghdad Without a Map is an excellent book and will give the reader a better understanding of the many issues still plaguing the Middle East. The edition I purchased even had a new epilogue written after the Persian Gulf War. And after reading this work, I can understand why Horwitz's wife told him "Once the Middle East's in your blood, you've got it for life. Like Malaria."
underlying fundamentals have not. It was a great read then and stands the test of time.
The book is best categorized as travel writing of the personal journal variety. Horwitz fearlessly puts himself in a variety of dangerous, humorous or interesting situations in places around the Middle East. But it goes beyond some travel journals in its insight into the societies he visits, and the people he meets. It is the sort of personal insight that travelers hope to discover on their travels. The sections on Iran were a revelation to me.
Originally written before the Gulf War, it has a final chapter describing his return after the war. Now the Middle East is in the news again, and although Horwitz didn't travel to Afghanistan, his stories are timely once again. Not to mention that the book is a terrific read. Buy it for yourself or as a gift.