Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia
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Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia

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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,186 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Tony Horwitz has a keen eye, a wicked sense of humor, and gall in almost suicidal measure. In an era when every American in the Middle East is a potential hostage, he entered Beirut under a rain of artillery shells, attended the Ayatollah's tumultous funeral in Iran, and met Muammer Qadiffi in Libya. This extraordinary travel adventure is fascinating, funny, poignant and f...more
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published March 1st 1991 by Dutton Books (first published 1991)
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Julie
This was written during the two years that Tony trailed his wife, journalist and writer Geraldine Brooks, to her various posts in the MIddle East, 1988-1990. Given that these vignettes are 20 years old, the book might seem anachronistic and nostalgic, but Horwitz's observations remain relevant. It's hard to find places where much has changed since his travels: Khartoum is still a dangerous wasteland, Cairo is still chaotic, Beirut remains beautiful but ravaged, Israelis locked seemingly forver i...more
Bob
It's hard not to give a book by Horwitz 5 stars. The only reason this lacked a star was because I'd read his other books and, in this early work, he hadn't quite found his voice yet. You see glimpses of what will develop over the years ahead, but this one is slightly unpolished.

My fear early on was that, frankly, this would make me a racist against folks from the Middle East. It paints such a grim, dark, hopeless picture of the societies there that, not only did I vow I'd never travel to the reg...more
Siobhan
I am a huge Tony Horwitz fan, so it’s not surprising that I liked this book. He is an entertaining, facile writer.

That said, the quality of writing in this book is not as good as the others. It seemed a tad flat to me. That’s unfortunate because, given the topic, this may be his most important book. Other Horwitz tomes deal with looking at the past in fresh ways. This book offers an intriguing look at a very troubled spot in the present.

Although the style of the writing isn’t as good as Confede...more
Sean
I first read this book for a class I took my senior year in high school. That was back in 1996. I still have this book on my bookshelf. At least once a year, I still take it down to read a couple chapters or more. Every time I read it, I rediscover a part of the book that I find hilarious. How many books have you read can make you laugh ten years later? Few if any I imagine.

This book is what inspired me to go to Yemen. After reading the 2nd and 3rd chapters (both of which are in Yemen), I knew I...more
Maria (Ri)
This was a compelling, though very difficult, read for me. I have visited the Middle East twice (Beirut, Lebanon and Bursa, Turkey) to attend international peace camps for children. Both times I was struck by the deep seated hatred even those attending a peace camp hold for others in the Middle East. I had so much trouble understanding the continued hatred for a group of people for hundreds and hundreds of years just because that is what you are taught. When does the cycle end?

This book brought...more
Bridget
What a lovely book this was! Simply a joy to read. I was wary at first because it's a good twenty years old (when he talks about the Persian Gulf War, he means the one between Iraq and Iran), but really, how much has changed in the Middle East when it comes to stuff like baksheesh and run-down infrastructure? The parts I loved best were the parts about places I've lived and traveled, but really, the whole book is fascinating. It reminded me of Robert D. Kaplan Lite - all the quirky travel experi...more
Victoria Kostenko
The first time I read this book was in the 9th grade and fell in love with it. Already an avid lover of the Middle East, Baghdad Without A Map brought a lot of the stark reality of the average person intertwined with great humor. This book is a very easy and enjoyable read, highly suggested if you also want the 411 on social behavior and how "westerners" should act. You'll laugh till you cry and even learn some great curse words in Arabic!
Kennedy
Fascinating!

I loved this book. Despite speaking of experiences from 20 years ago, I felt the book showed a lot of relevant-to-today culture. If you like Bill Bryson's books, I think you'd like this one as well. It was so informative about a important region of the world, but humorous and easy to read! I just loved this book!
Cynthisa
Loved this book for its look at the Middle East: compelling yet tender, frank yet kind. An excellent read and a must for anyone planning to travel to that region of the world.
Kandyce
i struggle with knowing how to feel and talk about this book. tony's insights into life in yemen in a time of qat and iraq in a time of war are fascinating in part because i haven't been there. i envy his ability to flit from country to country in a travel itinerary i can only dream of.

i was, however, rather turned off by his patronizing, negative descriptions of life in cairo (and maybe i would feel similarly if i had spent time in yemen, iraq, the UAE or other countries on his list). it seems...more
Kimm
My Thoughts on Baghdad Without a Map


I first began reading Baghdad Without a Map well over a year ago. For some reason, I ended up setting the book down with about a quarter of it left to read. Not really sure why I did that and for the longest time, I was convinced that the book was a bad read and I wasn’t able to finish it. Thus, it sat neglected on my TO FINISH shelf until the last read-a-thon came long [book bloggers readathon:]. I was determined to get that book off my back once and for all....more
tea_for_two
This is the third Tony Horwitz book I've read, and I've loved every one of them. Baghdad Without a Map is Horwitz's account of his two years as a free-lance journalist in the Middle East. Unlike his later books, Baghdad Without a Map has less of a narrative arc, and instead is more of a collection of anecdotes grouped by country. As a journalist stationed with his wife in Cairo in the late 80s, Horwitz visits weapon markets in Yemen, refuge camps in southern Sudan, bombing in Beirut, the Ayatoll...more
Cynthia Varady
In 1991, then aspiring journalist Tony Horwitz traveled to the Middle East, following his journalist wife, Geraldine Brooks, who had been stationed in Cairo there as a foreign correspond. Horwitz decided to go freelance, traveling across Arabia in the hopes of breaking a story that would make him a household name. He did manage to get a few front page articles, but what he brought back in manuscript form was delightful, sadistic, full of beauty and pain. In short, Baghdad Without A Map is an ama...more
Marianne
Baghdad Without A Map is the first book by American journalist and writer, Tony Horwitz. This book describes Horwitz’s experiences with the locals in various Middle East countries during his years there as a free-lance journalist. Horwitz accompanied his wife, Australian journalist and author, Geraldine Brooks when she took on the job of Middle East Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and he wrote sometimes on spec, sometimes as a stringer. Experiences he describes include chewing qat, bu...more
Lisa
Ahhh, the good ol' days, when the Middle East was just a chaotic region of civil war-makin' Third World countries that loved and admired the American people, although not our Zionist-supporting government. This book was written in the late 1980's and he gives the word "intrepid" new meaning. Horwitz visits countries that 95% of Americans could never find on a map. The amazing result is that he managed to write a humorous, but realistic, Middle East travelogue without the now-required political o...more
Brendan
Jun 17, 2007 Brendan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lawrence of Arabia
Tony Horwitz’s 1991 travelogue, Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia, is as good-natured and readable as it is devoid of political posturing -- or, for that matter, political context or even substantial insight.

That’s the downside. The upside is that Horwitz is the tourist so many of us long to be: Armed with plane tickets to Yemen, Cairo, Baghdad, Tehran, Tripoli, Khartoum, Beirut and the West Bank, he’s unafraid to use them. Although perhaps he should be. In a chapter on fly...more
Dave
Tony Horwitz might be my favorite journalist-he is so clear, fluid, and funny. This book is partly a fish-out-of-water story about Tony visiting many countries and dealing with corruption, incompetency, oppression, and fanaticism. But it's mainly about the people he meets and how they get by day to day. He doesn't seem to seek out specific Significant People to represent the country--he seems to simply talk to whoever's near him, including other journalists, people who fall asleep on his shoulde...more
Ian
Slightly shallow, but heaps of fun.

While not the ideal book for someone looking for trenchant political analysis of the Middle East, Horwitz does a great job of vividly bringing the foibles of life in the region to life. His years of meandering travels as a freelance journalist gave him a great vantage point from which to see the region. But in a post 9/11 world, it is hard to read the book without thinking about how the great gulf in cultures that makes much of the Middle East a mystery to Horw...more
Jennifer
Written before the onset of the first Gulf War, some might think this book will seem dated, but it did not. It still gives a worth reading glimpse of life and culture in the middle east. Horwitz and his wife, both reporters, lived in Cairo for two years, and this book collects his experiences while traveling throughout the region. He focuses on his encounters with locals he meets, which gives the type of read I most enjoy, hearing about daily life, or seeing events through the eyes of an ordinar...more
Sri
Oct 28, 2007 Sri rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who want to know the middle east
Shelves: travel
For me, Middle-East is a mystery. But my general impression is, it's not a save and convenient place especially for me as a woman.

Sudah selesai bacanya. Kebetulan kemarin nonton juga acara Kick Andy dengan tema wartawan di medan konflik. Benar-benar pas dengan buku ini. Sungguh, saya salut kepada para wartawan yang meliput di daerah berbahaya.

Buku Pak Horwitz ini bagi saya menggambarkan kekontrasan antar negara di Timur Tengah. Pak Horwitz bercerita tentang negara Mesir, Yaman, Uni Emirat Arab,...more
Heather
Traveling Cairo to Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Sudan,and Libya, Horwitz gives the flavor of each culture during his years as a freelance journalist. While the book is from the 90s, I still found it a great read in 2013. (BTW, the treatment of foreign journalists in Libya sounds exactly as described in the more recent book, "Everyman in this Village is a Liar". Some things don't change.) Horwitz's writing position in this book is "I observe.." It almost feels like understated English dry wit. He...more
Agustinus Wibowo
Horwitz is a great writer. Even in this early work of him, he had shown his sharp observation and witty humor. The journey itself is a nostalgia now, read in 2013, Middle East has changed a lot (but some parts are still totally the same as it was written back in 1990s in this book), so this book becomes a very important account to understand the history and social attitude of the region. My favorite part is the Qat Eaters of Yemen, and the life in Baghdad under The Big Brother, without any map a...more
Diane C.

Although this book was written in the mid-90's, it has much to tell about the culture, politics, wars and violence in the middle east. It's basically a travelogue, but following the author through areas that most people never go, nor would want to but that deeply affect our world, and especially the U.S. I also enjoyed the perspective on playing the journalist game in those areas. The majority of the book was spent in Egypt and Sudan.

His descriptions of daily life for the (mostly) men he met al...more
Mark
I read this book after the first Gulf War, and before the second. Tony lives in and travels around the middle east in this book giving his insight on it's people and places. The most interesting aspect of this book to me is how it pointed out my almost total ignorance middle east. Beyond the history of this part of the world are the many cultures. All very different, and none fit easily into the evening news stereotype. Just the section on Khartoum is exhilarating, and terrifying, and so intrigu...more
Suzanne Macartney
Perspective of the early 1990s is all the more interesting for its pre-Iraq war era context. Readable, eye-opening, amusing accounts of Cairo, Tehran, and Beirut among other places and peoples, as well as the "worst" city in the world. I especially enjoyed the paths between the well-known cities and the people found there. In part it's a pleasant read because of the occational press pool and Westerners' comments. The author was brave as well as reckless. A woman would never have been able to mak...more
Allison
Assigned summer reading, I think for freshman year of high school. I loved this one.
Adam
Ha!

Tony Horwitz blazes through the Middle East with Paul Theroux's keen eye and Billy Bryson's humorous reporting.

From the cabs of Cairo to the personalities in Palestine, Horwitz's accounts are spot on the experiences I've had at this intersection of three great continents. I can only assume that his truths pour over into Persia, Libya and the Gulf States, though after reading, a few of these places I might take a pass on in life!

A fun read that offers incredible insight into the region, it's...more
AJ
This was a pretty decent travelogue. It was written in the late 80s, so it's not completely relevant anymore, but a lot of the things he talks about are still true.

The best part of the book were the human interactions he had. Throughout his travels to write stories for magazines and newspapers he talked with locals about various topics and had some very interesting conversations. Some were funny, some strange, and some sad.

I recommend as an easy read about the middle east, and a bit of cultural...more
Kori
this book came highly recommended to me from a friend, and she was right on point with her glowing assessment. this book chronicles the travels of an american journalist throughout the middle east during the late 80's and early 90's, in the time right before the gulf war exploded, and the global climate of the world was forever changed. i found myself laughing out loud as often as i was nearly moved to tears; horwitz has any easy writing style which kept me hooked. this is fabulous book, even if...more
Frederick Bingham
A set of pieces about the author's travels to various countries in the arab world. He talks about Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Dubai, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Yemen and Lebanon. This is a travel book. The author has a keen eye for the oddities of any particular culture. Arab cultures are particularly odd for westerners. His description of the funeral of the Ayatollah Kohmeni in Iran was especially vivid.The book was written in 1991 and before, but is still current and worth reading. He includes a last chapte...more
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Date of Birth: 1958

Tony Horwitz is an American journalist and writer. His works include Blue Latitudes, One for the Road, Confederates In The Attic and Baghdad Without A Map. His most recent work, published in April 2008, is A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World, a history and travelogue dealing with the early European exploration of North America.
More about Tony Horwitz...
Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War One for the Road: An Outback Adventure

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“The first thing you notice, coming to Israel from the Arab world, is that you have left the most courteous region of the globe and entered the rudest. The difference is so profound that you're left wondering when the mutation in Semitic blood occurred, as though God parted the Red Sea and said: "Okay, you rude ones, keep wandering toward the Promised Land. The rest of you can stay here and rot in the desert, saying 'welcome, most welcome' and drowning each other in tea until the end of time.” 25 likes
“Egyptians undergo an odd personality change behind the wheel of a car. In every other setting, aggression and impatience are frowned upon. The unofficial Egyptian anthem "Bokra, Insha'allah, Malesh" (Tomorrow, God Willing, Never Mind) isn't just an excuse for laziness. In a society requiring millennial patience, it is also a social code dictating that no one make too much of a fuss about things. But put an Egyptian in the driver's seat and he shows all the calm and consideration of a hooded swordsman delivering Islamic justice.” 4 likes
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