In 1952, when American college teachers John and Mildred Adams with their two small children sailed past the Statue of Liberty on their way to Egypt and a new, unpredictable life, they were trembling with excitement. At last, a chance to see the world! Something of that thrill persisted through their eight eventful years in the Middle East: in Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon. Those years in the Middle East were a brief period of relative stability, ...
In 1952, when American college teachers John and Mildred Adams with their two small children sailed past the Statue of Liberty on their way to Egypt and a new, unpredictable life, they were trembling with excitement. At last, a chance to see the world!
Something of that thrill persisted through their eight eventful years in the Middle East: in Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon.
Those years in the Middle East were a brief period of relative stability, prosperity, and friendliness toward the West, just before the whole area was violently torn apart by wars and terrorism. In that almost Golden Age, traditional patterns of culture—manners, customs, political and social institutions, loyalties, taboos, ideals, ethical standards, religious beliefs—were clearer than they can be in a time of crisis and disruption like ours.
This book’s story of the Adams family’s life in that Middle East of half a century ago is dramatically timely today.
Many Americans are sick of the apparently endless violence and terrorism in the Middle and Near East and in other places (including the United States) where Islamic cultures clash with non-Islamic ones—conflict in most of which the United States is deeply involved. “How did we get into this mess?” they ask, “and how will it end?”
Historians point to the ignorance of Americans, including our leaders, about the Middle and Near East and Islam and to the disastrous consequences of that ignorance. They tell us that stability and peace will never come to those conflicted areas unless that ignorance is replaced by understanding, respect, and good will.
Sharing in the Adams family’s story the reader can gain that valuable insight and consequently, perhaps, sympathy and goodwill for all the people involved.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1916, Mildred (née Davis) graduated from Agnes Scott College (BA Latin) and gained MA and PhD degrees in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. In 1939 she married John Adams, who gained MA and PhD degrees in Social Anthropology from the University of Chicago. They had two children, daughter Branwen and son John Brayton.
After teaching for several years in colleges and universities in the United States, John and Mildred taught for eight years in the Middle East—in American University in Cairo (1952-54), Queen Aliya College for Girls in Baghdad (1955-56), and American University of Beirut (1956-61). Later Mildred taught in colleges and universities in the United States and abroad—e.g., University of Maryland Abroad in Würzburg, Germany, and in Okinawa, Japan, and most recently University of South Florida and St. Petersburg College.
John died in 1967. Mildred (who remarried and was writing as Mildred Davis Harding) published several articles, including “My Black Mountain,” The Yale Literary Magazine 1984, Vol. 151, No. 1; “Oriental Influence on George Moore Through Schopenhauer,” South Asian Review (Vol. VII, No. 4, 1985); “Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus—The Secret Doctrine in a Western Mode,” Journal of Religion and Psychic Research (Vol. XXII, January, 1999); “Pearl Craigie (‘John Oliver Hobbes’) in India: Lord Curzon’s Durbar (1903),” Turn-of-the-Century Women, (Vol. IV, No. 4, Winter, 1987); the two memoirs published in this volume; her chief work, Air-Bird in the Water: The Life and Works of Pearl Craigie (John Oliver Hobbes), 535 pp, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996; and “Craigie, Pearl Mary-Teresa,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.