IT seems to me there are two ways, generally speaking, to prepare a book, take a trip, or, for that matter, to live a life. One may go at it dilettante fashion, as a tourist--nibbling at experience, titillating the emotions yet emotionally starved, stimulating oneself with ambition yet forever tortured by frustration. Circumstances and temperament, however, may conspire together so that, with the freedom of a nomad, one can escape the straightjacket of everyday boredom, hurdle fences of space and time, and consume life at its sources. Properly directed, such an earthly life may give wing to one's imagination, clarity to one's thinking, strength to one's convictions, and even bring one nearer to the simple, eternal truths of God and spirit.
This book, I feel, belongs in the second category--the category of the primitive.
I left my country quite as uninformed, I am afraid, as are most Americans with respect to other peoples and other shores. But everywhere I went I sought to touch reality--always honestly, and always at first hand. Everywhere I clung close to the smells, the flora and fauna of native existence. In that spirit I have written of the Arabs among whom I lived. I found much good and much evil--evil acquired through a feudal order that, in my opinion, remains the Arab's greatest enemy and his greatest barrier to emergence from the dark ages. I am grateful for Arab hospitality and the kindness I was shown, but a reporter, like a physician, must not remain blind to the ills plaguing his subject.
With no desire to attribute to myself or my writings any