Book Review: Explore Morocco in your mind’s eye with this anthology

Updated 12 December 2018
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Book Review: Explore Morocco in your mind’s eye with this anthology

  • This collection showcases the writings and observations of adventurous travelers, traders and diplomats through the centuries
  • Rose begins the book with a concise but informative introduction and writes that Morocco is not a country of one major city, like Istanbul or Cairo

BEIRUT: “A Morocco Anthology” is the latest volume released in the delightful series “Travel Writing through the Centuries,” published by The American University in Cairo Press and edited by Martin Rose, who was the director of the British Council in Morocco until 2014.

Previous titles in the wanderlust-inducing series include books on the Nile, Jerusalem, Beirut and Istanbul, among other destinations.

This collection showcases the writings and observations of adventurous travelers, traders and diplomats through the centuries.

The Moroccan anthology takes us back to the 17th century with George Philips, secretary to the governor of Tangier, beautifully describing the juniper scented wind blowing from the land as the boat he was on glided into the Bay of Tangier on Saturday June 12, 1675.    

Tangier, a port town, was the gateway to Morocco. A mere 14 miles from Spain, it was easily reached by ferry and the effect it had on European travelers was perfectly summed up by Spanish explorer Domingo Badia Y Leblich who arrived from the Spanish town of Tarifa in 1803 and wrote: “The sensation which we experienced on making this short passage for the first time can be compared only to the effect of a dream.”

Rose begins the book with a concise but informative introduction and writes that Morocco is not a country of one major city, like Istanbul or Cairo. It has four imperial cities: Fes, Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat and each of these cities has a chapter of the book dedicated to its wonders.

While American novelist Paul Bowles described Fes as a “vast, oyster-grey medina… formless honeycomb of cubes, terraces, courtyards, backed by the grooved slopes of (mountain) Djebel Zalagh,” war correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett writes about a unique sense of freedom, “exhilarating to the mind and to the body,” which he found in no other country but Morocco.

These are just two examples of the winding prose and gripping descriptions this anthology has to offer readers who are eager to explore Morocco in their mind’s eye.

This superb selection of travel writing, encased in a small and practical hardback format, provides a stunning, layered portrayal of Morocco.


What We Are Reading Today: Infinite Powers by Steven H. Strogatz

Updated 19 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Infinite Powers by Steven H. Strogatz

  • It harnesses an unreal number — infinity — to tackle real‑world problems

Without calculus, we would not have cellphones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We would not have unraveled DNA or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket. 

Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz’s brilliantly creative, down‑to‑earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it is about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number — infinity — to tackle real‑world problems, breaking them down into easier ones and then reassembling the answers into solutions that feel miraculous. 

Infinite Powers recounts how calculus tantalized and thrilled its inventors, starting with its first glimmers in ancient Greece and bringing us right up to the discovery of gravitational waves (a phenomenon predicted by calculus), says a review published on goodreads.com.

Strogatz reveals how this form of math rose to the challenges of each age: How to determine the area of a circle with only sand and a stick; how to explain why Mars goes “backward” sometimes; how to make electricity with magnets and how to ensure your rocket does not miss the moon.