Thursday, September 22, 2022

Review: Travels in Mauritania by Peter Hudson

Several years ago I thought it would be interesting to read books set in countries I knew nothing about beyond their names. I promptly ordered books for this project and then let them languish (as happens with most of the books I buy since I buy faster than I read). Peter Hudson's Travels in Mauritania had been sitting on the top of this languishing stack forever and I thought, despite having given up on the project long ago, that I should finally pick it up, read it, and perhaps learn something about the country of Mauritania.

Written in 1990 about his 1988 trip to Mauritania, a West African country slowly succumbing to desertification from the encroaching Sahara, this is a travelogue in the truest sense. Hudson goes to the country, visiting cities, villages, and Bedouin camps, meeting people of all classes, and taking his time to learn about and absorb the uniqueness of each place he visits. He makes friends easily and those friends not only offer him their perspective of their country and fellow men but also direct him on his wide travels. He sees parts of the country not often visited by foreign travelers and while he reports on the people he encounters and what he sees, he works hard to understand everything from a place beyond his own innate prejudices. Mostly he succeeds. The writing is very visual but there are also black and white photographs and line drawings to reinforce the pictures in the reader's mind's eye. The pacing of the narrative is slow, as if the reader is plodding through the sand with Hudson and sometimes that can feel a bit interminable but his genuine interest in the culture and people help to make up for this. Little actually happens throughout the book but Hudson has drawn a richly complex picture of a little-considered-by-the-West country for those curious to learn about it (at least as it was four decades or so ago).

No comments:

Post a Comment

I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts