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The Valleys of the Assassins and other Persian travels Hardcover – 1934
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As for the criticism of the lack of maps in the book that some of the reviewers here have brought up -- well, that may be a criticism directed at the publisher, but it shouldn't be aimed at Stark. The maps that are in the book are the ones that Stark made herself during her travels and handed over to the Royal Geographic Society, and are considered the first Western maps of the area. In my own research, I was in contact with the Society repeatedly, trying to procure additional maps of the Elburz Mountain region for background information on Vladimir Bartol's ALAMUT, an historical novel based on the most famous Valley of the Assassin resident, Hasan ibn Sabbah. Frankly, Stark's maps are some of the few that actually exist, even to this day. The area of her travels -- perhaps aside from CIA maps that we mere mortals are not privy to -- has not been mapped very well. Spend a few hours scouring antiquarian map collectors and see what you come up with. True, it would have been helpful for the publisher to add some basic "Rand McNally" type overviews of her route, but a criticism of Stark on this point is completely beside the point and neglects to recognize her true contribution to the literature.
The real enjoyment of reading about her colorful adventures comes from her insights into the region as a journalist and the origins of the people, along with her vivid descriptions of life and her dry wit. When you think of this Western woman, often traveling alone, moving throughout the Muslim world of the 1930s [one that hadn't changed in centuries] you become instantly in awe. By simply reading at random any passage that she wrote, you are turned into the traveling companion of this amazing lady and shown those people and their customs in lands that are now forever lost to us, with Stark's compelling words being the only exception. Her true gifts to the world are these wonderful sojourns into the past.
Bob Magnant is the author of The Last Transition... - a fact-based novel about Iran, Iraq and the Middle East...