Arguably the most fascinating but least known country in the Arab world, Yemen has a way of attracting comment that ranges from the superficial to the wildly fictitious.
In Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land, Tim Mackintosh-Smith writes with an intimacy and depth of knowledge gained through over twenty years among the Yemenis. He is a travelling companion of the best sort - erudite, witty and eccentric. Crossing mountain, desert, ocean and three millennia of history, he portrays hyrax hunters and dhow skippers, a noseless regicide, and a sword-wielding tyrant with a passion for Heinz Russian salad. Yet even the ordinary Yemenis are extraordinary: their family tree goes back to Noah and is rooted in a land which, in the words of a contemporary poet, has become the dictionary of its people. Every page of this book is dashed - like the land it describes - with the marvellous.