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

Updated 12 December 2018

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: A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind

Updated 23 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind

A World Without Work is an excellent and timely piece of analysis by Daniel Susskind, who with his father Richard wrote the seminal The Future of the Professions (2015), which explored the impact of digital technologies on employment in the professions.

Anthony Seldon said in a review for newstatesman.com that Susskind “looks at past predictions with a skeptical eye, noting that many earlier warnings of widespread unemployment and disaster were proved wrong.” 

Seldon said Susskind “is far from convinced by a recent survey of leading computer scientists, which concluded there is a 50 per cent chance that new technology will outperform human beings at ‘every task’ within 45 years. Nor has he any truck with the hotheads preaching imminent disaster. He argues that many jobs existing today will not vanish completely and new ones will be established, including those we have not yet imagined.”

The book’s title “is either a threat or a promise, depending on your point of view,” critic Dorian Lynskey commented in a review for theguardian.com.