Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut” as Want to Read:
The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  171 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In 1934, famed British traveler Freya Stark sailed down the Red Sea, alighting in Aden, located at the tip of the Arabian peninsula. From this backwater outpost, Stark set forth on what was to be her most unforgettable adventure: Following the ancient frankincense routes of the Hadhramaut Valley, the most fertile in Arabia, she sought to be the first Westerner to locate an ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 24th 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1936)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Freya Stark was a remarkable woman who travelled throughout the Middle East in the 1930’s. She was fluent in Arabic and Arabian history and wrote many popular travel books at a time when women did not travel alone. When travelling through Yemen, she hired members of local Bedouin tribes to guide her to historical regions, old villages, and along the ancient spice routes. The Hadhramaut region of Yemen is the home of the rare Frankincense tree from the species Boswellia. This is a humorous and de ...more
I think this pretty much says it all:
"On the occasion of the arrival of the free and respected one, and of her honouring the court of our excellent school, I rise to welcome her happy visit to the abode of the noble Sharifs, the country of Al Ahqaf, the place of residence of our venerated ancestors and that where our forebears were born. Her spirit and firm courage are show to us inasmuch as she is the first woman to visit the province of Hadhramaut alone, without any companion of her own sex or
Tia Gonzales
I go for romantic imagery, none here. Just a matter-of-fact recounting of where she went, alone of course, because BROWN and BLACK MEN ARE NOT HUMAN. I prefer one eloquent phrase to pages of 'and then I went here' and "I saw this'. The magic of the journey seems to have eluded her; not unlike those today who race from place to place, photographing where they've been and posting on Facebook. TE Lawrence described the desert in 7 Pillars of Wisdom which was also dull in part, but the exotic and my ...more
Apr 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, travel
In the early 1930s, Stark, a single British woman, traveled through southern Arabia alone, visiting country that few other Europeans had seen, particularly few women. This might sound incredibly dangerous, and it probably was, but Stark was helped along by her passion for Arabic history and her genuine interest in the people she met (as well as near fluency in Arabic, as far as I can tell), as well as her poise, charm, humor, and sense of adventure. She befriends bedouins and sheiks alike, as we ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
I learned of Freya Stark when I read Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell, when he was the Minister of Information in Cyprus. Stark was building a house in Cyprus, and was known to take off at a moments notice to parts unknown. So when I found this book, I knew I had to read it.
The Southern Gates of Arabia was published in 1936, and became an instant bestseller. Stark traveled to the Hadhramaut region (now part of Yemen) in 1934 to find the lost city of Shabwa, which is along the ancient
Bob Newman
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
existentialist trek through Hadhramaut

Trekking over the desolate, rocky plateau that lies between the coast and the interior valleys of Hadhramaut, Freya Stark travelled in 1935 with a group of Bedu and a government slave-soldier. The area has been known as Aden Protectorate, the Qu'aiti State of Shihr and Makalla, South Arabia, the People's Democratic Republic of South Yemen, and is now part of united Yemen. She visited several of the interior towns, almost never seen by Europeans at that time
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't think I could have read this travel description if I hadn't first read the biography of her by Jane Fletcher Geniesse also wrote the forward to this book. And also I had to read Wikipedia's entry on Yemen as my knowledge of the area was not much, and the names of many places she visits have changed. A few more footnotes would have helped. The writing by Stark is lovely and I envy her traveling in these parts in a time when a well-connected western woman traveling alone was so unusual tha ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Later writers have snide things to say about her, but which other woman was riding about without a man to protect her in the back country east of Yemen back in the 1930's. And, she is a literate writer. Thus the 4 stars.

It's a quick read, but it is soooo personal, in contrast to all the geo-political tomes of today.
Yes, she heavily edited the friction out of this, but it's a great glimpse inside the closed society of the emirates area when significant remnants of the ancient economy and society
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Maybe 3.5 stars, as I did feel my eyes glazing over from time to time, but generally I really enjoyed both her account, as well as the opportunity to read a description of a Middle Eastern region from a historical perspective.
Robert Zoltan
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-writers
Beautifully written, engrossing, and poignant, with great insights into life and human character. This book proves that violence is not required for a great adventure, and that the smallest details of life create a sweepingly romantic story.
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Especially suited to the 1980's in Manchester during a slow burning heroin habituation. Somehow nodding out didn't spoil a thing...
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another intrepid traveller
in Araby. I so love these
people and the luck of living
when they did and the worlds
they got to see.
Freya Stark was mentioned in To War with Whitaker
By Hermoine Ranfurly. They met during WW2.
rated it it was amazing
Feb 09, 2008
rated it it was amazing
Nov 15, 2017
Martin Howells
rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2017
Marquita Flemming
rated it liked it
Nov 08, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jan 28, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2016
rated it really liked it
Nov 23, 2009
rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2013
Anna Leisa S
rated it really liked it
Jun 12, 2007
rated it really liked it
Jan 19, 2011
Emerson Grossmith
rated it liked it
Apr 17, 2016
rated it liked it
May 13, 2015
Max Carmichael
rated it it was amazing
Mar 15, 2012
Christine Young
rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2017
rated it liked it
Dec 12, 2017
rated it really liked it
Mar 28, 2018
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark
  • Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea
  • The Marsh Arabs
  • Travels with a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah
  • Eothen
  • Arabia
  • Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus
  • Prospero's Cell
  • A Visit to Don Otavio
  • رحلات داوتي في الجزيرة العربية
  • Trieste and The Meaning of Nowhere
  • Passenger to Teheran
  • In the Shadow of Islam
  • From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East
  • News From Tartary
  • The Desert and the Sown: The Syrian Adventures of the Female Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia
  • Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars
Freya Stark was born in Paris, where her parents were studying art. Her mother, Flora, was an Italian of Polish/German descent; her father, Robert, an English painter from Devon.

In her lifetime she was famous for her experiences in the Middle East, her writing and her cartography. Freya Stark was not only one of the first Western women to travel through the Arabian deserts (Hadhramaut), she often
More about Freya Stark

Nonfiction Deals

  • Rumi: The Big Red Book: The Great Masterpiece Celebrating Mystical Love and Friendship
    $10.74 $1.99
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich
    $13.95 $1.99
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
    $11.74 $2.99
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are
    $9.99 $2.99
  • I'm Just a Person
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Professor & the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity & the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
    $9.74 $2.99
  • The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New
    $8.24 $1.99
  • The Public Library: A Photographic Essay
    $27.99 $4.99
  • The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Murphy's Boy
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace
    $14.95 $1.99
  • The Heart of Meditation: Discovering Innermost Awareness
    $12.99 $1.99
  • My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir
    $9.49 $1.99
  • The Essential Rumi
    $10.24 $1.99
  • Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood
    $10.74 $2.99
  • How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece
    $8.24 $1.99
  • How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays (A Harvest Book)
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
    $6.99 $2.99
  • No Limits: Blow the CAP Off Your Capacity
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Silent Spring
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
    $10.49 $2.99
  • Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Castles of Steel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life
    $9.74 $1.99
  • AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
    $3.99 $1.99