Another recommendation from my mother.
Frank Gardner writes with such enthusiasm and passion about his travels and experiences. About his understanding – through experience – of Islam and cultures in other countries. He is straight down the line, sensible and factual in his description and explanations, with very little evidence of the emotions that most people would expect him to feel as a result of being shot and severely wounded in Riyadh so as to endanger his life on this earth. He seems fearless in his travels and exploration of our world. But he also draws the reader into the story, the culture, his experiences.
Through reading one gets the impression that Gardner has too many stories to tell because of his vast wealth of experience gained in a relatively short number of years. There are little snippets of stories throughout the book, as if there isn’t enough room to fit it all in. And one suspects much of this has come about because Gardner is so prepared to meet people on their level, without judgement; but also because he is so inquisitive about other countries, their traditions, their people. In his travels it seems he has always wandered off the beaten track, avoided the usual tourist hot-spots and found the traditional, the historical, the ordinary.
Gardner was educated in Marlborough – a little market-town where I grew up, and it’s satisfying to me to read a book that I know a little background about(yes – it’s minimal, but it’s also nice).
I might have said this before, but I’ll say it again: I hated geography and history in school, so subsequently my knowledge is poor. This book provides wonderful insights into various countries which I know very little of, except for that which is reported by the media. I had to use Google Maps to know where Gardner was speaking of, and how different countries interacted. It has brought me to a greater understanding of various wars and the histories and relations(or lack of relations) behind them. There have been so many wars in the past 30 years, and the reporting of them seems endless, intermingled and confusing. Gardner’s explanation has increased my knowledge and understanding.
I’m now reading his second book and it’s another ‘can’t put down’ book.
Highly recommended if you haven’t already read it.