The best books on the East–West dichotomy

7 authors have picked their favorite books about the East–West dichotomy and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Book cover of Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far-East

Only one segment of this travel classic is about Nepal, but Pico Iyer’s exploration of 1980s South and Southeast Asia throws a candid eye on a rapidly globalising world. Before social media and smartphones, foreign travelers and locals talked to one another and the results make for illuminating and elegant reading about the Lonely Planet generation and how it was received and perceived in the Far East.

Video Night in Kathmandu

By Pico Iyer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Video Night in Kathmandu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Pico Iyer began his travels, he wanted to know how Rambo conquered Asia. Why did Dire Straits blast out over Hiroshima, Bruce Springsteen over Bali and Madonna over all? If he was eager to learn where East meets West, how pop culture and imperialism penetrated through the world's most ancient civilisations, then the truths he began to uncover were more startling, more subtle, more complex than he ever anticipated. Who was hustling whom? When did this pursuit of illusions and vested interests, with it's curious mix of innocence and calculation, turn from confrontation into the mating dance? Iyer travelled…


Who am I?

I'm a writer and journalist with an eye on South and Southeast Asia. I first visited Nepal in the mid-90s, traveled around extensively, and have returned regularly since. Climbing Gokyo Peak, then crossing the Ngozumpa glacier and the Cho La pass in a storm, was the kind of trip I’m glad to have survived unscathed. I covered the civil war, the plight of Tibetan refugees, and Chinese Belt and Road infrastructure projects. I sat down for an interview with serial killer Charles Sobhraj, subject of the BBC/Netflix series The Serpent and I survived and reported on the 2015 earthquake. I spoke to several travelers who followed the hippie trail from London to Kathmandu in the 60s and early 70s, whose accounts inform the basis of my novel.


I wrote...

The Devil's Road To Kathmandu

By Tom Vater,

Book cover of The Devil's Road To Kathmandu

What is my book about?

The Devil’s Road To Kathmandu is a tense, fast-paced, and kaleidoscopic pulp thriller, following the lives of two generations of drifters embroiled in a saga of sex, drugs, and murder on the road between London and the Indian subcontinent. 

In 1976, four friends drive a bus along the hippy trail from London to Kathmandu. En Route in Pakistan, a drug deal goes badly wrong, yet the boys escape with their lives and the narcotics. Thousands of kilometers, numerous acid trips, accidents, nightclubs, and even a pair of beautiful Siamese twins later, as they finally reach the counter-culture capital of the world, Kathmandu, one of them disappears with the drug money. A quarter-century later, after receiving mysterious emails inviting them to pick up their share of the money, the remaining three companions are back in Kathmandu, trying to solve a 25-year old mystery that leads them to a dramatic showdown with their past.

Orientalism

By Edward W. Said,

Book cover of Orientalism

A classic of classics in understanding the west representation of the East. It made me make sense of why in many instances the West's media portrayal of Arabs and Muslims culturally, socially, and politically has been a repetitive list of stereotypical images, as if these societies and its people are static and not capable of change. Many scholars have argued over the years that Orientalism as a thesis has become redundant. I have argued and still do that it is still alive and kicking and has been manifesting itself in the daily news coverage year after year. 

Orientalism

By Edward W. Said,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Orientalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The seminal work that has redefined our understanding of colonialism and empire, with a preface by the author

'Stimulating, elegant and pugnacious' Observer
'Magisterial' Terry Eagleton

In this highly-acclaimed work, Edward Said surveys the history and nature of Western attitudes towards the East, considering orientalism as a powerful European ideological creation - a way for writers, philosophers and colonial administrators to deal with the 'otherness' of eastern culture, customs and beliefs. He traces this view through the writings of Homer, Nerval and Flaubert, Disraeli and Kipling, whose imaginative depictions have greatly contributed to the West's romantic and exotic picture of…


Who am I?

Arriving in the UK to pursue my PhD after a career in Journalism in my native country Lebanon, a few days before September 11, 2001, set me on a journey to put right the way my region and its people are represented in British and international media. The Middle East, the Arab region, Islam, and Muslims became the focal point of coverage for many years that followed. Most of that coverage had been tainted with negative stereotypes that do not speak true to who we are and what we stand for. Achieving fair representation and portrayal of ethnic and religious minorities have become one of my life passions.  


I wrote...

Reporting the Middle East: The Practice of News in the Twenty-First Century

By Zahera Harb,

Book cover of Reporting the Middle East: The Practice of News in the Twenty-First Century

What is my book about?

Through a country-by-country approach, this book provides a detailed analysis of the complexities of reporting from and on the Middle East. Each chapter provides an overview of a country, including the political context, relationships to international politics, and the key elements relating to the place as covered in Anglo-American media. The book explores how the media can be used to serve particular political agendas on both a regional and international level. This book questions how orientalism manifests itself in the coverage and how

Destiny Disrupted

By Tamim Ansary,

Book cover of Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

This is my favorite book for showing how culture affects perceptions of history. Ansari writes brilliantly of the time between the Prophet Muhammad and the fall of the Ottoman Empire and beyond. My favorite quote about differences between Western and Eastern cultures, says it all: “What looks from one side like a campaign to secure greater rights for citizens…looks from the other side like powerful strangers inserting themselves into the private affairs of families and undercutting people’s ability to maintain their communal selves as families and tribal networks. In short what looks from one side like empowering each individual, looks from the other side like disempowering whole communities” (p.353). The book is full of similar cultural insights and is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the Middle East. 

Destiny Disrupted

By Tamim Ansary,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Destiny Disrupted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Western narrative of world history largely omits a whole civilization. Destiny Disrupted tells the history of the world from the Islamic point of view, and restores the centrality of the Muslim perspective, ignored for a thousand years.

In Destiny Disrupted, Tamim Ansary tells the rich story of world history as it looks from a new perspective: with the evolution of the Muslim community at the center. His story moves from the lifetime of Mohammed through a succession of far-flung empires, to the tangle of modern conflicts that culminated in the events of 9/11. He introduces the key people, events,…


Who am I?

From over three decades of work on development projects in countries of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Africa, I am convinced that when efforts fail, it is invariably because we lack the cultural understanding of what people want or how we provide it. These books all reinforce my point by either underlining the way culture shapes the way people see the world or by showing how when we neglect culture, we do so at our own peril. Culture can be discovered through multiple entry points with these books offering a good start. Even something as mundane as advice columns in newspapers offer political insights when plumbed for the meanings below the surface.


I wrote...

Egyptian Advice Columnists: Envisioning the Good Life in an Era of Extremism

By Andrea Rugh,

Book cover of Egyptian Advice Columnists: Envisioning the Good Life in an Era of Extremism

What is my book about?

In the 1980s, religious conservativism gained momentum in Egypt. At the time a column appeared in Al-Ahram written by a self-described humanist addressing readers’ questions about personal problems. Also, religious sheiks in numerous newspapers answered readers’ questions about Islam’s views of the morality of certain behaviors. The two types of columns differed in their prescriptions for how to achieve the good life—the humanist by recommending time-tested traditions and the sheikhs by telling readers to comply with their Islamic duties. Both addressed extremism cautiously, probably out of fear of Islamists’ reactions. The sheikhs, although salaried government employees, showed a perplexing ambivalence by vacillating between support for government positions and contradictory extremist positions. This was partly to make themselves appear independent of government control but also to avoid angering the Islamists.

Book cover of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell's fantasia of life in the closed world of Edo Japan is a visceral, eerie, and profound novel that's also great fun, and it has everything: love, honor, treachery, bureaucracy, magic, a terrifying cult, a debauched ape, and the delightfully arch proto-scientist Dr. Marinus. As with many of his novels, it has the feel and richness of great cinema, and his depiction of life on an island in Nagasaki harbor where representatives of the Dutch East India Company are permitted to trade with a secretive nation they barely understand is so well-researched that you'll almost believe it happened.  

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

By David Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller, from the author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010

'Brilliant' - The Times
'A masterpiece' - Scotsman

Be transported to a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th-century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart.

Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two…


Who am I?

If you’re curious about the world, you can find secret doors that open onto unexpected vistas. For me, exploring the lives and origins of the caracaras in A Most Remarkable Creature revealed a vast and surprising story about the history of life on Earth, and about South America’s unique past—stories as wonderful and absorbing as any fantasy. These books are some of my favorite revelations of hidden marvels in the world we think we know. 


I wrote...

A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey

By Jonathan Meiburg,

Book cover of A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey

What is my book about?

In 1833, a young Charles Darwin met a species in the Falkland Islands that astonished him: tame, curious birds of prey that looked and acted like a cross between a hawk and a crow. They stole hats and other objects from the crew of the Beagle, and Darwin wondered why they were confined to a few islands at the bottom of the world. But he set this mystery aside, and never returned to it—and a chance meeting with these unique birds, now called striated caracaras, led Jonathan Meiburg to pick up where Darwin left off, sending him on a grand and captivating odyssey across thousands of miles and millions of years. “To call this a bird book,” wrote The Dallas Morning News, “would be like calling Moby-Dick a whaling manual.”     

The Map of Knowledge

By Violet Moller,

Book cover of The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found

A lively account of the ways in which the philosophical and medical ideas of the Greeks were transmitted to Rome, the Arab world, and medieval Italy. What Plato, Aristotle and Galen had said was often changed and even lost on the way, and only partially recovered in Renaissance Italy. A vivid reminder of the influence of the Greeks over many centuries.

The Map of Knowledge

By Violet Moller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Map of Knowledge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A lovely debut from a gifted young author. Violet Moller brings to life the ways in which knowledge reached us from antiquity to the present day in a book that is as delightful as it is readable.' Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

In The Map of Knowledge Violet Moller traces the journey taken by the ideas of three of the greatest scientists of antiquity - Euclid, Galen and Ptolemy - through seven cities and over a thousand years. In it, we follow them from sixth-century Alexandria to ninth-century Baghdad, from Muslim Cordoba to Catholic Toledo, from Salerno's medieval…


Who am I?

Vivian Nutton is an emeritus professor of the History of Medicine at UCL and has written extensively on the pre-modern history of medicine. He has lectured around the world and held posts in Cambridge and Moscow as well as the USA. His many books include editions and translations of Galen as well as a major survey of Greek and Roman Medicine, and he is currently writing a history of medicine in the Late Renaissance.


Galen: A Thinking Doctor in Imperial Rome

By Vivian Nutton,

Book cover of Galen: A Thinking Doctor in Imperial Rome

Galen of Pergamum, a Greek doctor in ancient Rome, is a fascinating figure, doctor to several Roman Emperors, a prolific writer, an overbearing egotist, a medical genius, an acute observer, and intelligent thinker, whose influence lasted for a millennium and a half. I have tried to explain the complexities of a man whose writings still provoke admiration or dissent, but rarely allow neutrality.

Book cover of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Chua set off an international firestorm with her memoir, a frank account of the trials and tribulations of raising her two daughters the Chinese way in the U.S. Her strict, achievement-oriented parenting tactics often run counter to mainstream Western ideals about raising children and have drawn harsh criticism from many readers. Whether you agree with her methods or not, it’s impossible not to be touched by Chua’s book. 

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

By Amy Chua,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER: the most talked-about book of the year 'Blissfully funny' India Knight, Sunday Times 'Entertaining, bracingly honest and, yes, thought-provoking' New York Times 'A treat from first to last: ruefully funny, endlessly self-deprecating, riven with ironies .. I relished this memoir' I Updated with a new postscript by Amy Chua and a letter from her eldest daughter, Sophia Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. It was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western…


Who am I?

I’m a Swedish American journalist, blogger, and author whose writings about Scandinavian parenting culture have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online publications across the world, including Time.com, Parents.com, and Green Child Magazine. I’m particularly interested in the role of nature in childhood and believe the best memories are created outside, while jumping in puddles, digging in dirt, catching bugs and climbing trees. In 2013, I started the blog Rain or Shine Mamma to inspire other parents and caregivers to get outside with their children every day, regardless of the weather. I’m currently working on my second book, about the Nordic outdoor tradition friluftsliv, which will be published by Tarcher Perigee in 2022.


I wrote...

There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)

By Linda Åkeson McGurk,

Book cover of There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)

What is my book about?

When Swedish-born Linda Åkeson McGurk moved to Indiana, she quickly learned that the nature-centric parenting philosophies of her native Scandinavia were not the norm. In Sweden, children play outdoors year-round, regardless of the weather. In the US, McGurk found the playgrounds deserted, and preschoolers were getting drilled on academics with little time for free play in nature. 

Struggling to decide what was best for her family, McGurk embarked on a journey to Sweden with her two daughters to see how their lives would change in a place where spending time in nature is considered essential to a good childhood. There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather is a fascinating personal narrative that illustrates how Scandinavian culture could hold the key to raising healthy, resilient, and confident children in America.

The Fourth Revolution

By John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge,

Book cover of The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State

The authors of this book were stalwarts of The Economist for many years. They bring to this book all their considerable powers as writers and analysts of contemporary politics and economics. Again, this book was a major source of inspiration for my own book. After discussing prior revolutions in the scale and scope of the state over the last two centuries, The Fourth Revolution argues that: 1) reform of the state is essential, and 2) this reform is possible because it is already happening all over the world thanks to new technology. This book, therefore, served for me as the launching point for my own book which looks at a great number of these actual changes in governments around the world that are taking place on the back of new technologies and forms of organization. 

The Fourth Revolution

By John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fourth Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling authors of The Right Nation, a visionary argument that our current crisis in government is nothing less than the fourth radical transition in the history of the nation-state

Dysfunctional government: It's become a cliche, and most of us are resigned to the fact that nothing is ever going to change. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge show us, that is a seriously limited view of things. In fact, there have been three great revolutions in government in the history of the modern world. The West has led these revolutions, but now we are in the midst of…


Who am I?

A professor of business at the University of Cambridge, I've spent over two decades studying innovation. I've been particularly interested in “frugal innovation”: how small teams now use ubiquitous tools and technologies to achieve what only large corporations or governments could a decade ago. I've written two books about this phenomenon: Jugaad Innovation and Frugal Innovation about the private sector. Whenever I gave talks about them, there was always the question: What does this mean for governments? I began to study how the state could use new technologies and ways of organizing to deliver services to its citizens better, faster and cheaper, and how governments should regulate and cultivate such tools used by the private sector.


I wrote...

How Should a Government Be?: The New Levers of State Power

By Jaideep Prabhu,

Book cover of How Should a Government Be?: The New Levers of State Power

What is my book about?

For over a century, the most divisive question in political thought has been about the size of the state. This dilemma might have made sense in earlier decades. Now, with a world transformed by Covid-19 and a revolution unfolding in the technologies of organization, a great upheaval is also coming in the essential business of government.

In How Should a Government Be? The New Levers of State Power I examine: how governments around the world are using technology and organization to transform how they deliver for their citizens; the challenges and opportunities that these new technologies and forms of organization pose; and how all this is even more imperative in a post-Covid-19 world of mass support schemes and unprecedented levels of surveillance.

Book cover of Becoming a Queen in Early Modern Europe: East and West

Early modern Europe is a ‘hot spot’ for queenship studies and there are countless individual biographies, works on groups of royal women and collections on key themes which I could have recommended. I’ve chosen this work as, like Earenfight, it is a great place to begin exploring what it meant to be a queen in this period. Unlike Earenfight, this book is divided up by key themes instead of working chronologically, exploring various facets such as royal weddings and ceremonial, motherhood and political agency. Kosior also brings together plenty of European examples to illustrate these themes and a distinctive feature is that she includes Polish royal women who are often missing in studies of queenship, which gives this book a unique and interesting angle.

Becoming a Queen in Early Modern Europe

By Kataryzna Kosior,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming a Queen in Early Modern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Queens of Poland are conspicuously absent from the study of European queenship-an absence which, together with early modern Poland's marginal place in the historiography, results in a picture of European royal culture that can only be lopsided and incomplete. Katarzyna Kosior cuts through persistent stereotypes of an East-West dichotomy and a culturally isolated early modern Poland to offer a groundbreaking comparative study of royal ceremony in Poland and France. The ceremonies of becoming a Jagiellonian or Valois queen, analysed in their larger European context, illuminate the connections that bound together monarchical Europe. These ceremonies are a gateway to a fuller…


Who am I?

Queens and queenship is a topic that has fascinated me since childhood when I first read about women like Cleopatra and Eleanor of Aquitaine. They ignited a passion to learn about the lives of royal women which led me from the ancient Mediterranean to medieval Europe, on into the early modern era, and has now gone truly global. I am particularly passionate to draw out the hidden histories of all the women who aren’t as well-known as their more famous counterparts and push for a fully global outlook in both queenship and royal studies in the works I write and the journal and two book series that I edit.


I wrote...

Queens and Queenship

By Elena Woodacre,

Book cover of Queens and Queenship

What is my book about?

This book looks at queenship in a global, timeless sense—examining the role of queens, empresses, and other royal women from the ancient and classical period through to nearly the present day on every continent. By taking a ‘long view’ of queenship, we can start to see connecting threads over time and place and comparisons of how the queen’s role differed in various cultural contexts. A wide variety of examples, including both more familiar figures and lesser-known but equally fascinating royal women, are given to explain key themes in queenship: family and dynasty, rulership, and image crafting.

Fundamentally, this book offers a fresh perspective on queenship which enables new insights into the queen’s role as the most eminent woman in the realm.

The Silk Roads

By Peter Frankopan,

Book cover of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

Even more than the oil curse, the location curse is key to understanding the Middle East. Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads is one of the best explorations of what imperial geographers identified as Eurasia, the ancient, much-fought-over land bridge between west and east running from the eastern Mediterranean to the Himalayas of which the modern construct of the “Middle East” is only one, sadly reduced part. Frankopan looks away from today’s association with regimes that are unstable, violent threats to international security and/or human rights, and popularly perceived as somehow peripheral to the interests of the West—to its historic center at the crossroads of civilization.

By tracing the evolution of the vitally interconnected trade routes known as the “Silk Roads", from conveying Chinese luxury goods and Turkic slaves to gold and silver, Iranian oil and Ukrainian wheat, Mongolian rare earths, and transcontinental telecommunications links, he shows how the region has…

The Silk Roads

By Peter Frankopan,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Silk Roads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The No. 1 Sunday Times and international bestseller - a major reassessment of world history in light of the economic and political renaissance in the re-emerging east For centuries, fame and fortune was to be found in the west - in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is the east which calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia deep into China and India, is taking centre stage in international politics, commerce and culture - and is shaping the modern world. This region, the…


Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by the Middle East ever since being taken to see Kismet at the age of 3. I travel there extensively, married into it, and have lived inside the Middle East community in the US for the past thirty years. I’m also a journalist, a playwright, and the author of three non-fiction books, Making the World Safe for Tourism, Aaronsohn’s Maps, and INTERLOCK: Art, Conspiracy, and The Shadow Worlds of Mark Lombardi. Although I wouldn't argue that the issue of women’s rights isn't an urgent one, as a woman who focuses on history and geopolitics, I’m often disturbed at how it's being used to whip up popular emotion and obscure other driving forces. 


I wrote...

Aaronsohn's Maps: The Man Who Might Have Created Peace in the Modern Middle East

By Patricia Goldstone,

Book cover of Aaronsohn's Maps: The Man Who Might Have Created Peace in the Modern Middle East

What is my book about?

Scientist, diplomat, and spy, Aaron Aaronsohn’s fascinating story will come as a major surprise to most students of Middle Eastern history. The early 20th-century agronomist and hydrologist’s exploits easily rival those of the fabled Lawrence of Arabia.

Emigrating as a small child to Palestine with his Romanian parents ahead of a wave of pogroms in 1882, Aaronsohn grew up to create the first comprehensive water maps of Palestine and Syria, maps later used to draft the region’s new boundaries at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. A history that speaks directly to the present, Aaronsohn’s Maps reveals for the first time Aaronsohn’s foresight in establishing water, not oil, as the driving force in Middle East politics, and the enduring importance of his maps today.

The Translator

By Leila Aboulela,

Book cover of The Translator

Now you know about the history and the politics, how about a post-colonial romance that turns out to be a solvent of East-West dichotomy? Aboulela’s re-writing of Jane Eyre as a love match between Scottish academic Rae and his Sudanese translator Sammar carries the reader away from orientalism to a happy union catalyzed by the westerner male’s translation into a Muslim.  

The Translator

By Leila Aboulela,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Translator as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book: “Aboulela’s lovely, brief story encompasses worlds of melancholy and gulfs between cultures” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
 
American readers were introduced to the award-winning Sudanese author Leila Aboulela with Minaret, a delicate tale of a privileged young African Muslim woman adjusting to her new life as a maid in London. Now, for the first time in North America, we step back to her extraordinarily assured debut about a widowed Muslim mother living in Aberdeen who falls in love with a Scottish secular academic.
 
Sammar is a Sudanese widow working as an Arabic translator at a…


Who am I?

I graduated from Oxford University in 1975 at a time of social and economic crisis for Great Britain. My country has since unraveled from being a world imperial power to a petty nationalist rump on the western fringes of Europe. In addition to England I’ve taught at universities in North East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, areas of the world where the British Empire once held sway. And I’ve also participated in conferences on various Middle Eastern topics in venues in the United States, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Morocco to name but a few. Hence my fascination with the Middle East and how the Western empires have impacted upon it.


I wrote...

From Empire to Orient: Travellers to the Middle East 1830-1926

By Geoffrey P. Nash,

Book cover of From Empire to Orient: Travellers to the Middle East 1830-1926

What is my book about?

One big difference between the British Empire and the American world hegemony that replaced it was that servants of the former either traveled extensively or lived almost their whole working lives in eastern lands. If you read Robert Kaplan’s The Arabists and thought the people who serve the US’s interests in the Arab world a bit strange, compare them to the British travelers and diplomats in my book!

From the idiosyncratic Scotsman David Urquhart, who in the 1830s engaged in cross-cultural dressing while working at the British embassy in Constantinople, to the imperious George Curzon, later Viceroy of India, who traveled in Persia and Afghanistan in the 1880s, these Britishers acquired a sympathy and affinity for the East.

Or, view all 10 books about the East–West dichotomy

New book lists related to the East–West dichotomy

All book lists related to the East–West dichotomy

Bookshelves related to the East–West dichotomy