Tim Mackintosh-Smith - In Conversation

The BRLSI's World Affairs Programme continues digitally and online during the pandemic.

Tim Mackintosh-Smith is a fan of Arabic travel literature, and the author of several books of his own travels. Of these, his trilogy, based on the journeys of Ibn Baṭṭūṭah, namely: Travels with a TangerineThe Hall of a Thousand Columns, and Landfalls, retraces the Moroccan’s wanderings around three continents. These works earned him the 1998 Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award and, appropriately, the Ibn Baṭṭūṭah Prize of Honour, awarded in 2010 by the Arab Centre for Geographical Literature. He also co-wrote and presented a BBC TV series on Ibn Baṭṭūṭah, described by the Guardian as ‘…marvellous, memorable television’.

His most recent work, published by Yale University Press, is Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires.  According to the Spectator, ʻ…this is a book of vast scope and stunning insight which rebalances Arab history, seeing Islam as part of it, not the start of it’. Further, fulsome, praise has been delivered by a wide range of reviewers including Ian Black in the Observer who said: ‘…in this wonderful new book Mackintosh-Smith combines deep learning with penetrating insights delivered with dazzling turns of phrase and illuminating comparisons’.

It was via this book that I first came across Tim, although I got to know him through his travel writing.

Tim is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain, and a recent Senior Fellow of the New York University Library of Arabic Literature. His home, for more than a third of a century, has been in the Yemeni capital Sana’a.


Please click on the following link to watch the talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7D4ehuVtLY


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