Previously reviewed books and articles focusing on travel in the Middle East:
Desert Queen – Janet Wallach – Born into the rigid gender and class rules of turn-of-the-century England, Gertrude Bell would endure a lifetime’s comparison to the Dominant Male. Intelligent and determined, Bell was admitted to Oxford – at a time when most females limited their higher education to musical instruments and art. Confident and outspoken, Bell had several lovers but never found a husband – during a period when most women married in their early 20s. Curious, bold and armed with a desire to escape the stifling boundaries of her homeland, Bell began traveling. At the age of 23, she left for Persia. The trip stirred in Bell a passion for the region – its peoples and histories – that would define her entire existence. From mere visitor, Bell became a learned archeologist and diplomat, traveling freely to study ancient ruins and meet with nomadic tribes. Eventually appointed to British intelligence during World War I, she was considered thee most informed person on all things Persian. Her biography is a welcome and refreshing addition to a predominately masculine-centered genre.