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The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion in Afghanistan (Paperback)


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Freya Stark traveled the difficult and often dangerous journey from Kabul to Kandahar and Herat in search of one of Afghanistan’s most celebrated treasures, the Minaret of Djam. This magnificent symbol of the powerful Ghorid Empire that once stretched from Iran to India lies in the heart of central Afghanistan’s wild Ghor Province. Surrounded by over 6,000 foot high mountains and by the remains of what many believe to have been the lost city of Turquoise Mountain—one of the greatest cities of the Middle Ages—Djam is, even today, one of the most inaccessible and remote places in Afghanistan. When Freya Stark traveled there, few people in the world had ever laid eyes on it or managed to reach the desolate valley in which it lies.

About the Author

Freya Stark (1893-1993), called "the poet of travel", was the doyenne of Middle East travel writers and one of the most courageous and adventurous female explorers in history. She toured extensively through Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Southern Arabia, where she became the first western woman to travel through the Hadhramaut. Usually solo, she ventured to places few Europeans had ever been. Her travels earned her the title of Dame and huge public acclaim and her many, now classic, books include Winter in Arabia, Travels in the Near East, Ionia, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander's Path, Dust in the Lion's Paw, East is West and Valleys of the Assassins.

Praise For…

The Minaret of Djam is filled with history and introspection but also with people … But the heart of the book lies in Kabul, where Stark looks out over the garden of the British Embassy.” -- The New Yorker
Praise for Freya Stark:
"One of the finest travel writers of our century." -- The New Yorker

"Her books make Stark a remarkable figure under any circumstances. Having been a woman whose roamings through Middle Eastern deserts and mountains put her in the top ranks of the fabled Royal Geographical Society makes her more so." -- Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

" is beautiful writing that encapsulates not only the history, but the feel, the smell, the sensation and sheer wonder of what she discovers... enriching and enjoyable."  --London Turkish Gazette
"Freya Stark has rightfully earned a place among the greatest travel writers of the 20th century. I.B.Tauris is releasing [A Winter in Arabia] alongside seven other works, as The Freya Stark Collection. A timely reminder of an extraordinary woman and a fine writer."  -- Sunday Telegraph

"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

"This is the stuff that modern adventurers’ dreams are made of" -- Hazel Plush, Wanderlust
"Freya Stark was perhaps the greatest, most intrepid travel writer of them all. In the 1960s she travelled through Afghanistan – not too many years before the Soviets, the Taliban or the current conflict – but her experiences sound almost impossible to recapture" -- CNN Traveller
"She was a vivid describer of scenes and landscapes. More, she was a connoisseur of people: she knew how to draw them out and listened closely when they spoke" -- Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker
Product Details
ISBN: 9781848853133
ISBN-10: 1848853130
Publisher: Tauris Parke Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 30th, 2010
Pages: 168
Language: English
Series: Freya Stark Collection