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Stark, Freya Valleys of the Assassins

ISBN 13: 9781850890164

Valleys of the Assassins

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9781850890164: Valleys of the Assassins
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The author recounts her adventures traveling alone in Syria in 1927 and visiting the hidden castle of local outlaws

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First published in 1934, Freya Stark's The Valleys of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels has been reprinted once again and is just as much of a gem now as then. At the age of 37, Stark shocked her fellow Brits by moving to Baghdad, befriending the locals, studying Arabic and the Koran, and then setting out on expeditions to remote and uncharted areas of the Islamic world by foot, donkey, camel and car. With her fascination for secret Islamic societies, she resolved to travel to former home of cult of the Assassins and locate an ancient fortress described by Marco Polo. There was only one problem: she couldn't find the valley on her map. Intrepid and indefatigable, she found a guide to lead her across the empty Persian planes and crested mountain ranges into the practically impregnable valley. There she found the castle ruins covered with wild tulips and surrounded by breathtaking views of the Elbruz Mountains, and charted the first accurate maps of the region.

Stark also used her charm and her understanding of Persian ways to infiltrate Luristan, a dangerous and forbidden place where she hunted for Neolithic Bronzes (by persuading the Chief of Police to help her loot graves) and searched for buried treasure. The Lurs, a mountainous tribe, were infamous for murder and thievery, but she found them "as cheerful a lot of villains as you can wish to meet, and delighted with us for being, as they said, brave enough to come among them".The Lurs were consistently generous hosts, but thought nothing of raiding her luggage while she slept (stealing being their national pastime and hence nothing to get upset about). While Stark began as an obscure and idiosyncratic adventurer, she was ultimately backed by the Royal Geographic Society, considered one of the best adventure writers of the century, and even knighted by the Queen of England. With her lively voice and natural perceptiveness she painted a picture of a fascinating world inhabited by charming bandits and armed tribesman now largely gone. While she did it for her own pleasure, in the end, the pleasure is ours.--Lesley Reed

About the Author:

Freya Stark, described by The Times of London as the last of the Romantic Travellers, upon her death in 1993, published during her lifetime more than thirty books about her travels in the Middle East, including The Southern Gates of Arabia. Jane Fletcher Geniesse is a former reporter for The New York Times and the author of the biography Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark, a finalist for the 1999 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, New York magazine, and Town & Country. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780375757532: The Valleys of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels (Modern Library) (Modern Library (Paperback))

Featured Edition

ISBN 10: 0375757538 ISBN 13: 9780375757532
Publisher: Modern Library Inc, 2001
Softcover