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The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion in Afghanistan

The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion in Afghanistan
Freya Stark

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The 12th century minaret of Djam is one of Afghanistan's most celebrated treasures, a magnificent symbol of the powerful Ghorid Empire that once stretched from Iran to India. The second tallest brick minaret in the world, Djam lies in the heart of central Afghanistan's wild Ghor Province. Surrounded by 2,000 metre-high mountains and by the remains of what many believe to have been the lost city of Turquoise Mountain - one of the greatest cities of the Middle Ages - Djam is, even today, one of the most inaccessible and remote places in Afghanistan. When Freya Stark travelled there, few people in the world had ever laid eyes on it or managed to reach the desolate valley in which it lies. Her journey from Kabul to Kandahar and Herat was difficult and often dangerous but her account shines with humour and is adorned with beautiful descriptions of the land she journeyed through and the people she encountered. A celebrated portrait of Afghanistan and its history, "The Minaret of Djam" is a poignant reminder that this was once far more than just a country ravaged by war and the political games of the world's superpowers.

Author Info

Freya Stark (1893-1993), 'the poet of travel', was the doyenne of Middle East travel writers and one of the most courageous and adventurous female travellers in history. She travelled 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 Travels in the Near East, A Winter in Arabia, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander's Path, Dust in the Lion's Paw, East is West and Valleys of the Assassins. 'She has written the best travel books of her generation and her name will survive as an artist in prose.' - The Observer


'It was rare to leave her company without feeling that the world was somehow larger and more promising. Her life was something of a work of art... The books in which she recorded her journeys were seductively individual... Nomad and social lioness, public servant and private essayist, emotional victim and mythmaker.'
Colin Thubron, New York Times

'Few writers have the capacity to do with words what Faberge could do with gems to fashion them, without violating their quality. It is this extraordinary talent which sets Freya Stark apart from her fellow craftsman in the construction of books on travel.'
The Daily Telegraph

'Freya Stark remains unexcelled as an interpreter of brief encounters in wild regions against the backdrop of history.'

'It is... as the writer of beautiful, measured prose rather than as a traveller or as an exotic 'character' who wore Dior in the wilder reaches of Asia and Arabian dress in London, that Freya Stark will ultimately be remembered.'
The Independent

'One of the finest travel writers of our century.'
The New Yorker

'One of the many wonderful books by the doyenne of Middle Eastern travel writers.'

A Middle East traveler, an explorer and, above all, a writer, Freya Stark has, with an incomparably clear eye, looked toward the horizon of the past without ever losing sight of the present. Her books are route plans of a perceptive intelligence, traversing time and space with ease.'
Saudi Aramco World

‘…her thoughts have a poignancy as if they were written just this last week by a correspondent embedded with the British army…Stark’s writing about Afghanistan has a freshness…The relevancy of her story…refuses to allow the dust to settle on her tale.’
Today’s Zamann

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: Tauris Parke Paperbacks
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781848853133
Publication Date: 30 Nov 2010
Number of Pages: 168
Illustrations: 51 integrated bw illustrations, 14 integrated drawings, 1 map

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