New Travel Book: ‘Arabian Sands’

Travel Blog  •  Frank Bures  •  01.14.08 | 10:43 AM ET

imageAuthor:  Wilfred Thesiger, with a new introduction by Rory Stewart

Released: Jan. 2, 2008

Travel genre: Classic travelogues

Territory covered: The Arabian Peninsula

Promo copy: “Arabian Sands is Wilfred Thesiger’s record of his extraordinary journey through the parched ‘Empty Quarter’ of Arabia. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Thesiger was repulsed by the softness and rigidity of Western life—‘the machines, the calling cards, the meticulously aligned streets.’ In the spirit of T. E. Lawrence, he set out to explore the deserts of Arabia, traveling among peoples who had never seen a European and considered it their duty to kill Christian infidels. His now-classic account is invaluable to understanding the modern Middle East.”

Critical verdict: As we know, the critical verdict of Arabian Sands is well established. When it came out in 1959, it was “met with a highly favorable reception. Peter Quennell described Arabian Sands in the New York Times Book Review…as ‘a work of considerable art’; Simon Raven in The Spectator…called it “Moving, fascinating.” V. S. Pritchett said in The New Statesman…that Thesiger ‘has the power to disclose the extraordinary experience, physical and mental, that has been shut up in himself with stern determination for half an active life-time.’” (Contemporary Authors) 

The real draw to this new edition: The fresh introduction by Rory Stewart, who opens “Arabian Sands” with an account of his own meeting with Thesiger, and about his legacy.

Find it: Amazon; Chapters; Powells, Publisher


Frank Bures is a contributing editor at World Hum, where his stories have won several awards. More of his work can be found at

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