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When Freya Stark traveled along the western coast of Turkey in 1952 she met only one other tourist; today, this region is the most popular in the country. Wandering beyond the boundaries of travel, Stark entered into the soul of ancient Ionia, examining the ever-present tensions between East and West and the elements of religion, society, and commerce that forged the culture of a civilization. Ionia is travel writing at its most elegant and history at its most dynamic—a powerful and beautifully-rendered classic of twentieth century literature.
Freya Stark (1893-1993), called “the poet of travel,” was the doyenne of Middle East travel writers Her travels earned her the title of Dame and huge public acclaim and her many, now classic, books include Travels in the Near East, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander’s Path, Dust in the Lion’s Paw, East is West, and Valleys of the Assassins.
"Freya Stark remains unexcelled as an interpreter of brief encounters in wild regions against the backdrop of history." -- The Observer
"Dame Freya’s was a passionate imagination, and her embrace of landscape was fierce... [She] was often called a 'travel writer'. The adjective, however, limits the accomplishment." -- The New York Times
"It’s hard to think of a writer in the travel game who most closely demonstrates the merits of Flaubert’s three rules for good writing: clarity, clarity and finally clarity. Re-reading her now, her restrained powers of description shine as brightly as they ever did, and they will continue to shine until the next Ice Age... Her books are more relevant than ever. Besides sheer enjoyment, one should read her for a fresh perspective on the intractable issues dogging Christian-Muslim relations. She was able to see both sides and what she found was similarity, not difference. The greatest woman traveller of the 20th century? I think so." --The Times