Forbidden Road - Kabul to Samarkand

FORBES, Rosita. Forbidden Road - Kabul to Samarkand.

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FORBES, Rosita. Forbidden Road - Kabul to Samarkand. London, Cassell, [1937].

8vo. Original cloth with illustrated dust-wrappers (price-clipped); pp. xi, 289, plates after photographs, sketch map; light discolouration to cloth, wrapers with a few marginal flaws, light spotting to endpapers, otherwise remarkably clean and fresh.
First edition, rare, even more so with the wrappers. An incredible journey into Central Asia were the young USSR was bordering fundamentalist Muslim communities, and traders from all along the Silk Road bring news of revolutions and nationalist movements. 'Forbes, an Englishwoman, made travel history when, in 1935, traveling alone and using every conceivable means of transportation, she made it from Peshawar to Samarkand and beyond. Long before Kabul, Kandahar, Bamiyan and Mazar-i-Sherif had become the familiar names in the West that they are today, she lived and mixed with the locals in these towns, frequented the bazaars and made friends with the Afghans, Tadjiks, Usbegs and Kazaks. In Forbidden Road, a chronicle of her adventurous journey through this part of the world, she writes in great detail about the splendid natural beauty, the majestic monuments built by the Sultans, the kindness, simplicity as also the craftiness of the locals, and of the humor even in the midst of chaos and misery. Forbes’s experiences and encounters among the various cultures make for an entertaining read. While in Mazar-i-Sherif in Afghanistan she sits coyly sipping tea and maintaining a respectful distance from the menfolk as is expected in traditional Islamic cultures, life in Bokhara in the Soviet Union is a complete turnabout. Here an Usbeg officer sharing her rundown bathroom with a “Do not disturb yourself, Comrade, I will use the other tap,” is nothing out of the ordinary' (advertisement for a modern edition).