A seeming contradiction, Gertrude Bell was both a proper Victorian and an intrepid explorer of the Arabian wilderness. She was a close friend of T. E. Lawrence, and played an important role in creating the modern map of the Middle East after World War I. The Desert and the Sown is a chronicle, illustrated by over 160 photos, of Bell's 1905 journey from Jericho to Antioch, a land of warring tribes under Turkish control.
This re-publication of Gertrude Bell's 1907 book, originally entitled simply and economically Syria, chronicles her seemingly meandering journey through the desert and countryside of Palestine, Jordan and Syria in the winter of 1906.
Bell is a rare combination of the thoroughly feminine woman and the fearless, daring, and resourceful traveler.... Go and read the book for yourself. I cannot quote it all and unless all is quoted, you have lost the better part.
The New York Times
Contrary to the ordinary practice of travelers, Bell bestowed her attention upon persons rather than places, her chief concern being to study the character and customs of the people. This fact sharply differentiates her work from most books on travel, and gives it a peculiar interest.
Enchanting.... Bell has a keen sense of humor, and a memorable power of... snapshotting the conversations of the inhabitants of the mountains and the deserts whom she encountered on her travels. She has just that dramatic touch, which enables her to record a coversation as a living thing, and to bring before us a vivid picture of the speakers as well as of ther words.... To her power of describing scenery, and of recording the living talk of men, Bell adds a wide knowledge of archaeology and a sound instinct for the politics of Asia.