The Life of My Choice

The Life of My Choice

4.15 (157 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 battle, 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 "The Marsh Arabs", tell of his two sojourns in the Empty Quarter and the Marshes of Southern Iraq. 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 more

Product details

  • Paperback | 464 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 26mm | 258.55g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Flamingo
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 32pp b&w photographs, 12 maps
  • 0006372678
  • 9780006372677
  • 902,180

Review Text

The highly entertaining memoirs of a British adventurer and explorer. Thesiger's buoyant, engrossing life is a page from the annals of the heyday of British Empire. Heroic stanzas from Kipling preface his account of a life born into adventure in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), where the author's father served as British Minister. Even later education at Eton and Oxford couldn't erase the "craving for barbaric splendor" fostered by these early years, and Thesinger's adult life - recorded here in every eccentric detail - became a series of happy returns to northern Africa in the service of England and his own romantic imagination. Inspired by the colonial triumphs of T.E. Lawrence, Thesiger served as a young man in the Sudan military, playing low-level generalissimo to various "exotic" local tribes. The book's most dramatic section, however, concerns the war years and Abyssinian resistance to Italian occupation. There is more bluff than bang to Thesiger's battle accounts, but his memory of Churchill's inspiring broadcasts to the front and his boast that he fired the first shot in the "Italian campaign" lend a thrilling dash of authenticity to his report. The major subplot here concerns Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. Thesiger met Selassie as a child, and the latter's rule - ended by a Marxist coup in 1975 - symbolizes for the author a tragic trajectory. The book's final pages are thus a eulogy for both a monarchical "golden age" and for days of glory - both Thesiger's and England's - now permanently faded. An engaging tale and fascinating historical marker. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

157 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 42% (66)
4 36% (57)
3 18% (28)
2 3% (4)
1 1% (2)
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