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Lords of the Atlas: The Rise and Fall of the House of Glaoua, 1893-1956

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  87 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Set in the medieval city of Marrakesh and the majestic kasbahs of the High Atlas mountains, `Lords of the Atlas' tells the extraordinary story of the Madani and T'hami el Glaoui, warlord brothers who carved out a feudal fiefdom in southern Morocco in the early twentieth century. Quislings of the French colonial administration, they combined the aggression of gangland mobst ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by Lyons Press (first published 1966)
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Books Set in Morocco
28th out of 90 books — 61 voters
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9th out of 23 books — 12 voters


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Community Reviews

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DoctorM
Jun 24, 2009 DoctorM rated it it was amazing
An account of the rise and fall--- blood on the way up, even more blood on the way down ---of a Moroccan clan amid the politics of the twentieth century, amid French colonialism, independence, war, and a dizzying cascade of alliances and betrayals. My edition is illustrated with breathtakingly beautiful photos of the country--- the cities, the Atlas mountains, the Rif ---and the landscape only emphasises the fates of the Glaoua and their allies and enemies. The old saying is true enough here: yo ...more
GoldGato
Jun 06, 2012 GoldGato rated it really liked it
I suppose if you need to read your first book on Morocco, this isn't a bad place to start. Let's preface that with...your first book on Southern Morocco, as the author's focus is strictly there. If you're like me, a wanderer uninitiated on the North African nation as a whole, this volume will illuminate the difference between the Morocco we think we know (Casablanca) with the Morocco we don't (Marrakesh).

While this is really the history of the House of Glaoua, lords of the Berber lands to the so
...more
Andrew Bourne
Mar 27, 2008 Andrew Bourne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Moroccophiles
Recommended to Andrew by: Jason LaFerrera
Maxwell has an ear and an eyeball rolled in every kasbah's blanket, every Pasha's golfing bag, every harem's keyhole, every red Martian craig of the High Atlas, every Sultan's treasury, and gilded box, and long handshake, and column of tea poured too far above its little glass. He has a good guess at what every passing feudalist thinks about his neighboring fief. He saw France rinse white vampire hands as Morocco passed its medieval placenta into the 20th century, oozing with old blood stuck to ...more
Roger
Jan 31, 2016 Roger rated it liked it
I guess when most people think about Morocco, they think of beaches, holidays, and maybe the life of literary types who spent time there. Or perhaps the movie Casablanca. That, and a vague knowledge that there has been a low level insurrection that has been going on in the South of the country for the whole of my life, is pretty much the sum of my knowledge of the country.

Gavin Maxwell on the other hand is probably best known for his books on raising and protecting otters in Scotland - I was set
...more
Ann
Jan 19, 2015 Ann rated it really liked it
As a part time resident of Morocco who can often be found ‘lost’ in the crumbling ruins of kasbahs, it was easy to find myself ‘back in time’ whilst reading this book. The 'fiefdom' of the Glaoua dynasty is immensely interesting, interwoven with the complexities of history and political intrigues, alongside the vagaries and viciousness played out at every level, from the ruling families and would be’s, to the colonial powers. And, as is always the case in history, or in any event for that matter ...more
Ruth
Jul 27, 2015 Ruth rated it liked it
After visiting the kasbah at Telouet and Ouazarzat as well as being in the Atlas Mountains I had to read this book. The wildness of the landscape served as an interesting backdrop to the politics and power struggles depicted in the book. Our guide mentioned T'hami el Glaoui throughout our travels in Southern Morocco but after reading this it was curious he never mentioned Madani. I made it most of the way through the book but after a while I had to stop.
Caro
May 28, 2014 Caro rated it liked it
Shelves: ill, morocco
I wish I had read this before we visited the kasbah at Telouet, but it's almost equally good after having been there. I was less interested in the politics of Morocco (which were complicated and unpleasant) and more interested in what it was like to live day by day under the rule of the Glaoua family (equally complicated and unpleasant, but what did they eat, who did they entertain, etc.).
Harry Cunningham
Jan 11, 2016 Harry Cunningham rated it really liked it
Fantastic portrait of Morroco through the 19th and 20th century. probably more detail than neccesary for a casual reader with a basic interest in Morrocos modern history but fascinating none the less and shows the complicated story a nations leaderships can take especially coupled with interference from other Powers.
Jaqui Lane
Mar 12, 2016 Jaqui Lane rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-east
Well, I am now on my third reading of this book and planning my trip to Morocco as part of 'the big adventure' in 2016. The description of the State Coach presented to the Sultan, Moulay And El Aziz (pages 58-60) is worth buying the book on its own, and would make the most amazing movie screen. I simply have to visit this place so I can breathe in the air and recreate the vision for myself.

It is also a very direct insight in to the this part of the world without political overtones, or politica
...more
Derekh Froude
Mar 31, 2016 Derekh Froude rated it it was ok
Some great imagery and bonkers scenarios (dead protestors in Casablanca in the 50s being used as stew meat?), but long passages of uninteresting "and then this happened and then this happened" textbook style writing. I wish it was all as good as the good parts.
Simone
Apr 25, 2016 Simone rated it it was amazing
Maxwell does a great job of showing how each characters (French, Glaoua and Sultan's) defects creates Morocco's civil unrest, which seems impossible to overcome. This book brought so many emotions, including tears to my eyes. It was a brilliant read whilst was travelling to Marrakech and the High Atlas Mountains. A fantastic historical depiction of the ruling between 1893 - 1956. That is an absolute page turner.
Martha Fedorowicz
Nov 27, 2013 Martha Fedorowicz rated it really liked it
For anyone studying the history of Morocco this book is an absolute must-read! Maxwell tells the story of the Lords of the Atlas--the Glaoui family who ruled over much of southern Morocco until its independence in 1956. But this is not only the story of one family, it is also the story of a nation's struggles for independence and more importantly, its quest to define itself.
Shelley Schanfield
Disappointing. The first few chapters are almost all quotes from other writers about Morocco's history. I may go back later, skimming the later chapters there seems to be a greater preponderance of Maxwell's own writing.
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Claire Webster
Aug 07, 2012 Claire Webster rated it liked it
A complex account of dynastic intrigue in what it is hard to believe was the 20th Century. Highly evocative and romantic.

Mara
Jan 06, 2013 Mara added it
Very interesting, but hard going. Keeping track of who is who taking a bunch of concentration.
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193021
Gavin Maxwell was a Scottish naturalist and author, best known for his work with otters. He was born in Scotland in 1914 to Lieutenant-Colonel Aymer Maxwell and Lady Mary Percy, whose father was the seventh Duke of Northumberland. He was raised in the small village of Elrig, near Port William, which he later described in his autobiography The House of Elrig (1965).

After serving in the Second World
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