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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.
"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
"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