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The Marsh Arabs

Discussion in 'Writing Resources' started by skip.knox, Dec 11, 2017.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I have a brief review of this over on Goodreads. Ellis L. Knox’s review of The Marsh Arabs

    I'm posting here to recommend the book to my fellow writers. When we look around for ideas, we often turn to literature, but this sort of travel book is another kind of source. The author spent several years with a people who have now all but vanished, victims of socio-economic change and undoubtedly done in by the Iraq wars. But Thesiger (the author) sees them in the prime, or nearly so (the advent of firearms made some big changes).

    This was a people who lived a profoundly different life, for the lived in the heart of the vast marshes of the lower Tigris-Euphrates river. Thesiger gives us endless details about how they ate, the amazing reed houses they built, their boats, how they fished -- if you want to add a distinctive touch to your world, you could do no better than to look here.

    If you like the book, several reviewers say that another of his books, Arabian Sands, is even better. That's an account of his life with the Berbers.
    Heliotrope likes this.
  2. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Can I add another to your list here?

    I found Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd to be amazing for this. It is focussed on England (so not so exotic), but each chapter is a sort of snapshot of history from the Stone Age up to 1985. It is a cool account of history and there is so much fodder for world building.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    The work done by social historians since, oh, the 1930s or so, forms an inexhaustible supply of detail for writers. Ah, but I see Sarum is historical fiction. I'll mark that one down. Meanwhile, it might be worthwhile to list history books that make for good fiction fodder. Another one I'd nominate is Peasants into Frenchmen by Eugen Weber. The early chapters paint a vivid picture of peasant life in the 18th century. But there are many others, going all the way back to G.G. Coulton's The Medieval Village. Then there's Davis' The War of the Fists, about bridge fights in Venice.

    It occurs to me that, between all the Scribes, we could make up one heckuva bibliography.

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