In 2014, a coup d' tat in Sanaa paved the way for a devastating conflict in Yemen. Andrew Moscrop, a physician, cancelled plans to return to the country that he had once called home. Instead, he returned to his diaries and delved into memories of a time when he lived in a rambling old tower house in Sanaa. As the war unfolded, he re-read the accounts of past travelers to the country. And while working in Greece, treating refugees from other Middle Eastern war zones, he began writing a book set in Yemen.
Examining the impressions of adventurers, merchants, and scientists, as well as travel writers, Moscrop explores how Yemen has been seen and understood by foreigners from Europe and the US. These visitors include blundering missionaries, aristocratic Englishmen, and unlikely spies. Moscrop delivers an intriguing perspective on Western encounters with the Islamic world, examining the imagery and clich's by which Yemen has been represented from the sixteenth century to the resent.
Evocative descriptions of Sanaa and its unique cityscape, as well as empathetic portrayals of people encountered and events experienced, all create a narrative by turns thoughtful and unexpected.