The Life of My Choice ( free ) ✓ Wilfred Thesiger

Wilfred Thesiger í 8 CHARACTERS

Le their prisoners in chains; at the age of 23 he made his first expedition into the country of the Danakil a murderous race among whom a man's status in the tribe depended on the number of men he had killed and castrated His books Arabian Sands and. Some readers may be aware of the kind of boys adventure story that was popular around the middle years of the last century Set in a far off colony surrounded by veritable hordes of colour and dress not then encountered in the Home Counties a tall invariably fair haired and clean shaven upstanding British military type dressed in khaki uniform pith helmet puttees and boots pursued heroic adventures against all odds brought criminals to justice and discovered waterfalls or rivers then unknown to the residents of Surbiton He was probably called Carruthers if he was an officer or perhaps Jenkins in the unlikely case that the lower social classes could breed a hero This really was fiction of course but after reading an autobiography entitled The Life Of My Choice one wonders whether such stories might just have been based on the life of Wilfred ThesigerHe was the last of the gentleman explorers and earned fame for his crossing of the Arabian Desert s empty uarter and his time amongst the Marsh Arabs of the Tigris Euphrates delta But in The Life Of My Choice Wilfred Thesiger largely ignores these great achievements primarily because their detail had already been covered in previous books So in this volume we follow Thesiger across different country throughout the years he spent in relative obscurityHe was brought up in Abyssinia where his father was British Ambassador and it is the landscape politics history and people of Abyssinia Ethiopia that form the backbone of this highly readable and informative autobiography He travels the length and breadth of this varied terrain meets hordes of people rubs shoulders with emperors and aristocracy employs naked bearers and clearly feels totally at home without once suggesting he might lose his inborn and outwardly visible English upper crustOf course he was sent away to Eton Of course he went to Oxford Of course he won a boxing blue Is there any other way to live One wonders reading the rest of his exploits whether he might have shot swans on the Thames But his heart was never in anything to do with English society His dreams were always plodding across Africa with a camel or a donkey Refectory plum duff and custard would surely have seemed strange to someone who regularly ate from a communal pot with his fingers seated on the hard baked soil under the starsAn aspect of Thesiger that never ceased to amaze throughout the book is that he never really seemed to have a career He was always doing something was always occupied with activities rather official but his status was often at best negotiable And so he takes us on a journey to examine the struggle for the Ethiopian throne the Italian invasion and occupation of Abyssinia and its eventual liberation all at first hand We are in the court of Emperor Haile Selassie or Ras Tafari as Theisger usually prefers to call him We are in the bush shooting big game and several smaller things too alongside an occasional human being We are then operating in Sudan and Egypt in the Second World War We are in fact all over the place but along the way usually sleeping rough under the stars eating little and often than not shunning most forms of formal social contactThroughout the book it is the contrast between this explorer s life and the man s social origins that provides an energy that seems to motivate him Thesiger always seems to be getting away from something drawn by an apparent simplicity he sees in a life that directly engages with nature and landscape One wonders whether he ever met fellow countrymen as such euals Take for example his almost passing comment about a relative Uncle Fred was an austere and impressive figure whom some people found forbidding Until I was seventeen I thought of his as the rather alarming head of the family Then unexpectedly he invited Brian and me to stay in Northumberland where he had taken a grouse moor for the summer It was just the moor it seems and not the whole countyAnd now as we read about the exploits of this pith helmeted anachronism we are reminded of just how much certain attitudes have changed Of a college don for instance he writes An untidy man with freuent egg stains down his waistcoat he always brought his smelly little dog in with him and would tolerate no women undergraduates in his class Of Evelyn Waugh Thesiger admits that he disapproved of Waugh s grey suede shoes his floppy bow tie and the excessive width of his trousers But in those amongst whom he travelled he himself apparently tolerated almost whatever he encountered usually offering little judgment or even comment He describes thus some practices associated with adultery and extra marital sex to beget a child on an unmarried girl was a serious crime the offender became an outcast and if the girl died in childbirth he was killed the child was always buried alive He encounters people who regard killing men specifically men as part of their right of passage into adulthood And to prove they have killed someone they take a trophy from the corpse which they then present as evidence of their deed How do you imagine could you prove it was a man you had killed Imagine no further and Thesiger describes the practice and the still extant if rather dried evidence with an almost glib detachmentThesiger is also prone to the occasional turn of phrase We learn for instance of a man called Cox renowned for his ability to keep silent in a dozen languages But we also notice that Thesiger only rarely seems to generate friendliness with his English peers And anything else he seems to shoot He waxes lyrical about wildlife and then shoots it Attitudes really have changed in the last seventy yearsAnd it is perhaps these changes that make The Life Of My Choice such an engaging read Today this is a life stranger than most pith helmeted fiction It s not just another era it might as well be another universe But this is also a history of our own time a history whose longer term conseuences are still being enacted in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East Through Thesiger s eyes aspects of both areas now much ignored can still be seen with clarity

SUMMARY The Life of My Choice

The Life of My Choice

Wilfred Thesiger is the last of the great British eccentric explorers renowned for his travels through some of the most inaccessible places on earth As a child in Abyssinia he watched the glorious armies of Ras Tafari returning from hand to hand batt. Wilfred Thesiger wrote two notable travel books Arabian Sands The Marsh Arabs Arabian Sands tells the story of his exploration of the Empty uarter a vast area of desert in southern Saudi Arabia that stretches into Oman during the late 1940s before the impact of the discovery of oil The Marsh Arabs tell of trips through the former and now in places undergoing restoration marsh lands of southern IraThe Life of My Choice doesn t really have anything of interest eual to either of those two books The background to both of those trips is fleshed out There are the childhood recollections of seeing the effectively medieval army of the Emperor of Abyssinia the author s father was Britain s representative to the Imperial court moving out to battle a usurper some recollections of Hallie Selassie some bits and pieces about his wartime service and employment in the colonial service Sudan as well as some brief overviews of some of his other journeys for example in the Danakil and KurdistanArabian Sands and the Marsh Arabs are remarkable pictures of places and people in the 1950s Life of My Choice doesn t have as much to recommend itself to the reader but what comes through very strongly is the author himself His pleasure in unexplored and extreme environments is clear as is the dissatisfaction and alienation that he experienced as a colonial officer in the SudanHis early experiences seem to explain the difference in tone and satisfaction between what he had to write about the punishing adventures that he had in the Empty uarter of Arabia and his sedate travels in the marshlands of southern Ira The travels reveal the man

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The Marsh Arabs tell of his two sojourns in the Empty uarter and the Marshes of Southern Ira In this autobiography Wilfred Thesiger highlights the people who most profoundly influenced him and the events which enabled him to lead the life of his choi. Just an awesome individual who along with such other characters as Francis Younghusband Roy Chapman Andrews Peter Fleming and Richard Burton makes me feel like a total failure in life but somehow in a good way Includes some fascinating insights into pre gone to hell Ira Interesting footnote Thesiger himself has a hilarious cameo at the end of the humorous British travel classis A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush


10 thoughts on “The Life of My Choice

  1. says:

    Wilfred Thesiger wrote two notable travel books Arabian Sands The Marsh Arabs Arabian Sands tells the story of his exploration of the Empty uarter a vast area of desert in southern Saudi Arabia that stretches into Oman during the late 1940s before the impact of the discovery of oil The Marsh Arabs tell of trips through the former an

  2. says:

    I don't read a lot of autobiographies or biographies if you ignore the fact that I recently reviewed Jordan's autobiography I'm not sure why this is As a general rule of thumb I'm inherently nosey and surely getting hold of a big sta

  3. says:

    Thesiger is a legend and there are no dud books of his that I have read He is fascinating and a uniue individual Odd for sure but incredible in what he achieved in his lifeDavid Attenborough described him as one

  4. says:

    Some readers may be aware of the kind of boys’ adventure story that was popular around the middle years of the last century Set in a far off colony surrounded by veritable hordes of colour and dress not then encountered in the Home Counties a tall invariably fair haired and clean shaven upstanding British military type dressed in khaki uniform pith helmet puttees and boots pursued heroic adventures against all odds brought criminals to

  5. says:

    Let's just admit it if you're male you want to be Wilfred Thesiger You do Born to British diplomatic family in Abyssinia early in the century growing up in a dying Edwardian world then a life abroad in the outlands of Emp

  6. says:

    Being an explorer in uncharted territories where no man has gone before is a dream for many but only a few dare to achieve that dream One of the last greatest explorers of lands which hitherto had been impossible to penetrate was Sir Wilfred ThesigerIt always seemed reading his autobiography The Life of My Choice that he never once held a real job but was always doing something for the people around him who lived the harshest of lives –

  7. says:

    At the close of his memoir Wilfred Thesiger describes himself as perhaps the last explorer in the tradition of the past whose feats of endurance took him to the remotest parts of East Africa and Arabia just in time before the arrival of tourism industry and the corruptions of modernityThesiger's understated prose

  8. says:

    Just an awesome individual who along with such other characters as Francis Younghusband Roy Chapman Andrews Peter Fleming and Richard Burton makes me feel like a total failure in life but somehow in a good way Includes some fascinating insights into pre gone to hell Ira Interesting footnote Thesiger himself has a hilarious cameo at the end of the humorous British travel classis A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush

  9. says:

    This book provided my first vicarious travel to Ethiopia I poached the book off a wonderful friend's bookcase when I was living in Bangkok The experience of living in a foreign land and reading about another foreign land was

  10. says:

    Thesiger is a giant amongst explorers This book is excellent focusing on the man and his motives as much as his incredible acheivements I was stuck in hospital for a few days recently and could read this continually it was smashing

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