Category Archives: Travel

At the Tomb of the Prophet 1988

It’s 5 A.M. in Jedda when I touch down. The atmosphere here beside the Red Sea feels like the inside of a sauna, fiercely hot and dripping damp. I struggle through customs and look about for my guide. No foreigner wanders the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia unaccompanied, Zayd al-Badawi, my former tutor, philosopher and guide […]

Getting Down With the Saudis 1980

If you think that all academics look the same, think again. Standing on the immigration line at the Jeddah airport I am immediately and instinctively identified—“Look for an attractive professor, possibly dressed like a vagrant or a disco dancer”– by a young man attired of course (all Saudis do in fact look alike) in an […]

A Guide for the Perplexed 1970

Before there was Lawrence of Arabia, there was Charles M. Doughty. Odd, but there it is: I stumbled over the horse before the flamboyant cart. At age twenty-five, in St. Louis, Missouri, remote from both desert and oasis, I opened a book and read: A new voice hailed me of an old friend when, first […]

The Holy Places of Jerusalem

When Jerusalem first appears in biblical history it is a town without a past, a newly conquered Jebusite settlement that David had made the capital of his still insecure Israelite kingdom. Today it is once again the capital of a Jewish state, but in the three millennia that separate the modern city from David’s cramped […]