“A fascinating and multifarious volume –Andrew Moscrop has written himself into the canon of travellers in Yemen.” —Tim Mackintosh-Smith, author of Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land

The Camel’s Neighbour

Travel and Travellers in Yemen

Andrew Moscrop

“Both gorgeous kaleidoscope and parable of chaotic modernity, The Camel’s Neighbour is a moving compendium of the human face of one country’s history.” Julian Evans, author of Semi-Invisible Man: the Life of Norman Lewis

“An elegy for a country consistently ignored by the West, and torn apart by years of war and famine.” Artemis Cooper, author of Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure

In 2014, a coup d’état in Sanaa paved the way for a devastating conflict in Yemen. British doctor Andrew Moscrop cancelled plans to return to the country that he had once called home. Instead, he returned to his diaries and delved into memories of a time when he lived in a rambling old tower house in Sanaa. As the war unfolded, he re-read the accounts of past travellers to the country. And while working in Greece, treating refugees from other Middle Eastern war zones, he began writing a book set in Yemen.

Both a personal travelogue and a reflection on travel and travellers in Yemen, The Camel’s Neighbour offers a unique window into the country and provides a context and alternative to the often dehumanising stories of conflict and crisis. Examining the impressions of adventurers, merchants, and scientists, as well as travel writers, Moscrop explores how Yemen has been seen and understood by foreigners from Europe and America. These visitors include blundering missionaries, aristocratic Englishmen, and unlikely spies such as Norman Lewis and Freya Stark. Moscrop delivers an intriguing perspective on Western encounters with the Islamic world, examining the imagery and clichés by which Yemen has been represented from the 16th century to the present. 

Evocative descriptions of Sanaa and its unique cityscape, as well as empathetic portrayals of people encountered and events experienced, all create a narrative by turns thoughtful and unexpected. The author finds himself caught up in the fallout of the Danish Cartoon Crisis, is involved in an outbreak of polio, and witnesses close-up the distinctly undemocratic re-election of Yemen’s President. Meanwhile, his sense of humour is tested when he gatecrashes the Queen’s birthday party at the British Embassy and is urinated upon by a goat during a hair-raising car journey.

Andrew Moscrop trained as a doctor in Edinburgh, studied history in London, and public health at Harvard. Since Yemen, his work has taken him to Cambodian prisons, Pakistani clinics, remote Nepalese health posts, as well as refugee camps in Greece. He has written extensively for the medical press and his work has appeared in a number of major journals.

£12.99 paperback

Buy now

352 pp / 30 b&w illus

ISBN: 9781909930896

October 2020