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Five books that will make you fall in love with Jordan

Posted by Michael Pullman 17th April 2020
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Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen

This is a true and inspiring tale of one woman's leap of faith in the name of love. Author, Marguerite van Geldermalsen, a New Zealander and once-upon-a-time nurse, tells of how her life dramatically changed in 1978 when, during her travels through the Middle East, she met Bedouin souvenir seller Mohammed Abdallah Othman in the beguiling rock city of Petra.

This warm-hearted read charts Marguerite's journey from traveller to cave-dwelling Bedouin's wife with all the cultural shocks and changes imaginable, not to mention insights into the Bedouin way of life including many customs and traditions sadly long gone. 

A Line in the Sand by James Barr

Following on from his exceptional first book, Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, Barr returns with A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle that Shaped the Middle East, an authoritative yet easy-to-digest rundown of the events and various political agendas that moulded the modern Middle East. 

If you've ever looked at a map and wondered why the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq are in such straight lines, then this is the book for you. From the outrageous Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 and greedy ambitions of Britain and France to the legacy of division that remains between Israel and Palestine, Barr's book is an engaging and accessible account of how and why the Middle East is the way it is today. 

The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron

Follow Leon McCarron, a Northern Irish adventurer, author and fellow of the RGS, as he embarks on an epic solo walk through some of the most volatile lands of the Middle East. Starting in Jerusalem, he sets off on new trails that commemorate ancient pilgrim routes through the West Bank, Jordan and onto Mount Sinai. His journey is an exhilarating combination of humanity, history and nature. 

From the realities of families he meets struggling to survive in occupied territory to his memorable trek through the dramatic red desert of Wadi Rum, we're taken along for a thrilling ride on McCarron's own voyage of discovery. 

Our Last Best Chance by King Abdullah II of Jordan

Penned by Jordan's very own ruling monarch, this influential book offers a window into the private life and aspirations of the leader of what is considered to be the most stable nation at the heart of one of the world's most troubled regions. King Abdullah II was educated in the west and was well on his way to becoming a high-ranking career soldier in the Jordanian forces when he somewhat surprisingly inherited his country's throne after the relatively sudden death of his father, King Hussein, in 1999. 

In this moving memoir, he touches on a variety of topics, from personal childhood experiences and his own domestic projects to international affairs, such as the Iraq War and, most poignantly, his vision for creating a lasting peace between his neighbours, Israel and Palestine. 

Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie

Grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lose yourself in this classic Poirot mystery by the late, great crime writer, who knew and loved the Middle East, Agatha Christie.

Mrs Boynton, a cruel and sadistic American woman travelling with her stepchildren, is found dead on a trip to Petra with a needle mark in her wrist. Enter the little Belgian, Hercule Poirot, who has just 24 hours to work out what happened by interviewing everyone who was present. In doing so, he forms an impossible timeline of events and unearths deep, dark family secrets - will he manage to unravel the truth and find out who murdered the dislikable Mrs Boynton in the majestic surroundings of ancient Petra? 

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