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Item #: OP812-876
THE LAST NOMAD: ONE MAN'S FORTY YEAR ADVENTURE IN THE WORLD'S MOST REMOTE DESERTS, MOUNTAINS AND MARSHES Thesiger 1980 1st-2nd ptg, Hardcover DJ
By Thesiger, Wilfred.
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New York, 1980, 1st or 2nd printing. 304 pp, many photos. A large-format summary of all his travels and explorations, illustrated more profusely than his other books. Large-format hardcover, DJ, Near Fine.

 
Wilfred Thesiger made many journeys, from wanderings in Abyssinia, across the Arabian desert lands, around East Africa, and through the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan.

The son of a diplomat in Addis Abbaba, capital of what was then Abyssinia, Thesiger had an adventuresome childhood. The life toughened him from an early age. It also led both to an unsettled existence matched by an enduring desire to return there throughout his life. Even when far afield, the Ethiopian hills beckoned him. Adding to that lure was a friendship with a man who ultimately became Emperor of that nation, Haile Salassie.

Family circumstances removed him from Addis, and he found ways to exercise his wanderlust. The intrusion of WWII gave Thesiger an opportunity to put his exploration and language skills to work. Having mastered Arabic in addition to his academic training, he was able to negotiate arrangements with various tribes. In the Western Desert, after El Alamein, his exploits are exciting reading.

The disruptive era of war lingered in the Middle East as oil became the focus of The Powers. Thesiger's deep aversion to the internal combustion engine kept him away from petroleum exploration. Instead, he was commissioned to hunt locusts! The job allowed him to penetrate into Arabia's 'Empty Quarter' where some people had never seen a European. These jaunts nearly had Thesiger incarcerated or killed as local sheikhs resented European intrusion.

In other exercises, Thesiger is largely credited with bringing to view Iraq's 'Marsh Arabs'. These enigmatic people lived an isolated existence in an immense area. Thesiger spent long, fruitful periods with them, often acting as a medical technician [he had no formal medical training]. His fondness for young Arab men gained a further hold in those years. As a semi-official circumcisor for the locals, there was ample opportunity.

His attachment to his mother was intense. The loss of his father and Kathleen's later re-marriage only seem to have strengthened that tie. Perhaps, the years spent with an abusive headmaster of Thesiger's preparatory school drove him from 'father figures' and may have led to his propensity for young men. Although all those relationships appear to be platonic, Thesiger seems to have avoided sex as demeaning or repulsive.

Geography was merely background to be dealt with as he visited, exchanged greetings, partook of the same fare as the locals and generally 'blended in'. He fit in, sometimes uncomfortably, with the mob of others producing similar travel accounts. He stood above those other writers, however, to become the giant of 20th Century voyagers on the ground.

Never truly Arab - he never considered becoming a Muslim - yet certainly not really British, despite his attitudes, Thesiger was a man without a country, yet of many.


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