16 AUGUST 1930, Page 21

Some Books of the Week

To be born a. Syrian Christian, to work as a journalist and to become an ardent advocate of Arabian Nationalism are evidence of Mr. AmeenRihani's versatility. His earlier works have given him a permanent place in Arabian politics, but Around the Coast of Arabia (Constable, 21s.) has not only a political interest, it is also an unconscious revelation of the author'sown psychology. Shrewd though his observation isand though his judgment is on occasion penetrating, Mr. Ameen Rihani often allows his enthusiasms to run away with him. His admiration for King Husein and .a devotion to his ideal of a united Arabia form the context of this book and colour its whole treatment. Political catastrophes, however, are apt to confound the most perspicacious. Yet, even so, Husein or no Husein, whatever Arabia's destiny, Mr. Rihani has given us an agreeably written and interesting account of Arabian manners and customs which he observed during his travels. Not the least interesting are his comments on the Javanese pilgrims to Mecca, who are described as the most leisurely and the most popular of all pilgrims. He notes a nice point in Arabic, that a dagger in the Hedjaz is called " a front-piece," but in the Yemen " a side-piece," because it is worn in front and at the side respectively. He has some very pithy and pertinent remarks on the slave-trade, which deserve the attention of those engaged in its suppression. But why is there no snap ? One is badly needed, and though the publishers advertise " Illustrations and Maps," we could only find an inadequate sketch-map of the Aden area and a reproduction of a propagandist postcard which has no cartographic value whatever.

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