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Honeyburn Books (UK)

1961*1st* Dust In The Lion’s Paw(Autobiography 1939-1946) Freya Stark(John Murray Publisher)

1961*1st* Dust In The Lion’s Paw(Autobiography 1939-1946) Freya Stark(John Murray Publisher)

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Dame Freya Madeline Stark DBE (31 January 1893  9 May 1993) was a British-Italian explorer and travel writer. She wrote more than two dozen books on her travels in the Middle Eastand Afghanistan as well as several autobiographical works and essays. She was one of the first non-Arabs known to travel through the southern Arabian Desert in modern times.

In the autumn of 1939 Stark offered her services to the British Ministry of Information. Her prior experience in the Middle East was sufficient for the Ministry to send her to Yemen to spread propaganda on the British cause. Part of her duties involved showing films, despite the rulers of Yemen being strict Muslims who disapproved of any images of humans and wildlife. After working for two months in Yemen and Aden she was sent to Cairo, a posting that doubled her salary to £1,200. Following her arrival in June 1940 she set up an intimate salon where, over tea four times a week, she advocated for the British cause. Before long, Christopher Scaife who was teaching English at the King Fuad I University was sending her the odd Egyptian student who wanted to know what the British were fighting for. Stark encouraged them to bring their friends and the discussions expanded to cover not only the war but also its effects on Egypt. These discussions grew to become the basis of the Ikhwan al Hurriya(Brotherhood of Freedom) propaganda network that was aimed at persuading Arabs to support the Allies or at least remain neutral. As the brotherhood grew it divided into cells and then subdivided again, to keep numbers at no more than ten members per cell. Christopher Scaife became its president, while Stark had two assistants, Pamela Hore-Ruthven and Lulie Abu'l Huda.

The brotherhood included all strata of society, and by the middle of the war, it had tens of thousands of members. The work involved Stark travelling all over Egypt and often speaking for as many as 10 hours a day. These wartime experiences were described in her Letters from Syria (1942) and East is West (1945). Following a visit to Iraq during which she was besieged in the British Embassy during an attempted coup d'état in April 1941 Stark was asked by British Ambassador Sir Kinahan Cornwallis to set up a branch of the Ikhwan al Hurriya in that country. Stark agreed and spent the next two years in Iraq dispensing British propaganda.

In February 1943, she visited Archibald Wavell and his wife in India. To assist her with the return journey Wavell arranged for her to have a car. After driving it from Delhi to Teheran, she sold it, but officials in Cairo and Aden took a dim view of her taking upon herself to dispose of government property in wartime. Stark believed that since she had been given it she could sell it.

In 1943, Stark went on an official tour of British Mandate of Palestine. She gave speeches that called for quotas on Jewish migration to Palestine, which angered the global Jewish community. However, Stark felt that she was not at all anti-Jewish; she simply felt that Arab consent should be considered before mass migration took place. These speeches are thought to be her most controversial work during WWII. In 1943, she wrote "I really can’t see that there is any kind of way of dealing with the Zionist question except by a massacre now and then... What can we do? It is the ruthless last penny that they squeeze out of you that does it... the world has chosen to massacre them at intervals, and whose fault is it?"

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