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People of the Reeds por Gavin Maxwell
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People of the Reeds (original 1957; edição 1969)

por Gavin Maxwell (Autor)

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1225167,737 (3.5)4
A portrait of the marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, and their disappearing way of life.
Título:People of the Reeds
Autores:Gavin Maxwell (Autor)
Informação:Pyramid Books, New York (1969), 2nd printing, Paperback,
Colecções:Read and owned, A sua biblioteca

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A Reed Shaken by the Wind: Travels Among the Marsh Arabs of Iraq por Gavin Maxwell (1957)

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Mostrando 5 de 5
An eye-opener... with its setting along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, .. and my dim memory of the book 45 years later... I recall wondering what happened to these peoples during the Gulf War. Finally,.. over a decade after the end of active fighting, someone looked them up and found a few remnants to assemble into a television show. Fascinating story of these "water people" in the middle of a desert.
1 vote Lace-Structures | Aug 31, 2018 |
'A maze of crooked alleys in a jungle of trumpeting wind-tormented reed stumps and withered sedge', March 5, 2015

This review is from: A Reed Shaken by the Wind: Travels Among the Marsh Arabs of Iraq (Paperback)
The first work I have read by Gavin Maxwell, whom I always equated with Scotland and otters; in this account of his time spent with the Marsh Arabs of Iraq (1956), he tells of his first encounters with the animal, in the reedy waterways by the Tigris - and of his discovery of an otter species which was named after him.
But the main part of this work is of the place and the people, as he accompanies experienced adventurer, Wilfred Thesiger, in a reed canoe. staying in the reed homes of local sheikhs, he describes the villages, where each house is 'a tiny island of its own...we could see through their slit doors to firelit interiors where buffaloes shared their warmth with the human family. Not galleons perhaps, but Noah's Arks.'
We read of the huge bird life, the turtles, fish ...and huge numbers of wild pigs, the hunting of which occupies the locals - not for food, but to keep down the numbers of a fierce creature. And of local life - dances, disease, generosity and dishonesty...
Quite poetic at times, Maxwell describes a world which was to practically disappear under Saddam's rule, with the construction of canals - but is now being restored by ecologists. ( )
1 vote starbox | Mar 5, 2015 |
The author is an amateur anthropologist-writer, and this book is an auto- biographical travelogue among of a little-known people--the Marsh Arabs inhabiting the lower reaches of the Tigris in southern Iraq. Matchless descriptions of nature--watches as bred and dead insect wings float by for hours in "a monstrous profligacy of nature", identifies the eagle-owl, new species of otter. He clearly falls in a kind of love with a fresh-water otter. It happens to the best of us.

Reads like a dream, and since the culture he documented is now extinct, this book is a treasure and a kind of mausoleum.

Equally moving, Maxwell gives proof to the often-observed general homosexuality of these "Islamic" Arabs. Some women dress as men, and even do so as a "stage in advance of normal womanhood". [207] The local sheikh, among others, was effeminate and sought young boys. [206]

"It is true that the marshmen, in common with many other Arab peoples, are not very selective in their direction of sexual outlet; all is, so to speak, grist to their mill, and the long years that many a youth of the poorer people may have to wait before he has acquired the brideprice of three buffaloes, coupled with the tremendous taboos attached to intercourse with a girl of the village, make casual homosexuality general." [205] ( )
1 vote keylawk | Jan 12, 2014 |
Gavin Maxwell's 'Ring of Bright Water' has been on my bookshelf since 1968, but I've never opened it - out of the mistaken belief that it was some mawkishly sentimental story about otters. Well it may yet prove to be, but after reading this account of his travels among the Marsh Arabs of Iraq (and having previously read his 'Lords of the Atlas') I am persuaded that Maxwell is a hugely talented writer. And I finally understand his affection for otters, although how it arose in the waters of the Tigris/Euphrates was a complete surprise to me. Velvetink's review gives as good an account of the situation of the Marsh Arabs in as few a words as you'll find anywhere so I won't add to that. Suffice to add that Maxwell's descriptions of place and people are superb, he has that ability to make the sights and sounds (and discomforts) of travel immediately accessible to the reader, and all tied together with a reflective narrative that manages to find the happy balance between self-obsessed and opaque. His descriptions of wildlife and nature are sublime, being both beautifully economical and descriptive at the same time.

Highly recommended as a travel book, but even more so for anyone interested in Maxwell and the history of his otter affection, or for those that would like a look at a very different Iraq. And for anyone who is interested in Wilfred Thesiger whose expedition this actually was, with Maxwell as the rather naive passenger along for the ride. ( )
1 vote nandadevi | Apr 2, 2013 |
Searching for a copy of this. Hope to find one soon. Douglas Botting reviews this book in his biography of Maxwell (Gavin Maxwell; A life)and it is the place where Maxwell first encountered his lifelong love of otters and the country that changed the way he viewed the world and man's place in it. He was to become a staunch conservationist after Iraq.

Maxwell's account of the Marshes was the only one written before the Marshes ceased to exist after droughts and Saddam Hussein's draining of the Mesopotamian marshes of Iraq – (recorded as the Garden of Eden in the Bible) - was one of the most infamous outrages of his regime, leaving a vast area of once-teeming river delta a dry, salt-encrusted desert, emptied of insects, birds and the people who lived on them.

But nearly two decades later the area is buzzing and twittering with life again after local people and a new breed of Iraqi conservationists have restored much of what was once the world's third largest wetland to some of its former glory. In terms of conservation rehabilitaton the area is one to watch.
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Be sure this land of nowhere will expel / All those who seek a chance outlandish spell/ That any place could offer just as well.
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(prologue) We seemed to have been flying over the desert for a very long time.
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