The Camel's Neighbour: Travel and Travellers in Yemen

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In 2014, a coup d'état in Sanaa paved the way for a devastating conflict in Yemen. Doctor Andrew Moscrop cancelled plans to return to the country that he had once called home. Instead, he returned to his diaries and delved into memories of a time when he lived in a rambling old tower house in Sanaa. As the war unfolded, he re-read the accounts of past travellers to the country. And while working in Greece, treating refugees from other Middle Eastern war zones, he began writing a book set in Yemen. Both a personal travelogue and a thought-provoking study of past travellers in Yemen, The Camel's Neighbour offers a unique window into the country. Importantly, it delivers a context and a valuable corrective to the dehumanising stories of conflict and crisis that have characterised this corner of Arabia in recent years. Evocative descriptions of Sanaa and its unique cityscape, as well as empathetic portrayals of people encountered and events experienced, all create a narrative by turns contemplative and unexpected. The author finds himself caught up in the fallout of the Danish Cartoon Crisis, is involved in an outbreak of polio, and witnesses close-up the distinctly undemocratic re-election of Yemen's President. Meanwhile, his sense of humour is tested when he gatecrashes the Queen's birthday party at the British Embassy and is urinated upon by a goat during a hair-raising car journey. Examining the impressions of earlier visitors, Moscrop explores how Yemen has been seen and understood by foreigners from Europe and America. These past visitors include blundering missionaries, avaricious merchants, aristocratic Englishmen, and unlikely spies such as Norman Lewis and Freya Stark. Moscrop delivers an intriguing and original perspective on Western encounters with the Islamic world, examining the imagery and clichés by which Yemen has been represented from the sixteenth century to the present. Ultimately, he unravels a story of how Yemen became an 'unknown country' with a 'forgotten war'.


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