Hawks of the Hadhramaut
Readers of P.S. Allfree's previous book of Arabian memoirs, Warlords of Oman, will recall his closing words 'I was going to see more of Arabia.' In these pages he recounts a year and a half spent as a political officer among the Bedouin of the south-eastern Rub' al-Khali, the 'Empty Quarter'.
The many fascinating characters in this ancient land spring happily to life: the wise Judge of the Saar who chewed tobacco and whose name was 'Son of the jerboa'; Sulayim, the serpent-subtle eminence grise of the desert, whom the author employs as a secret key to unlock the doors of the Mahra, a wild and inhospitable race; 'Aunty' Hussein, the motherly Secretary of State in the Sultanate of Sayun, and many others. Notable amongst a crowded chronicle of incidents are the Case of the Hamstringed Camel, which nearly leads to a tribal war; the author's embroilment with a terrifying tribe of what he calls 'nightmare Teddy-boys, armed to the eyebrows'; and the final exciting expedition, which is the climax of this work, the coup de main which brings the government to the wild and anarchic Mahra.
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