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am 10. März 2017
This is Fernea's account of the time she and her husband, then a doctoral student on fieldwork, spent living in an Iraqi village between 1957 and 1958. Fernea became close with some of the women in the village and thus was able to provide rare glimpses into the secluded lives of Shiite women in Iraq before the revolutions and counter-revolutions of the 20th century and the more recent invasion and insurgencies.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Her account is well-written and - especially considering it was first published in the 1960s - surprisingly self-aware and not patronizing.
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am 10. Dezember 1999
I was introduced to the works of Fernea while I was taking a course on the Middle East in university in 1986. The book was an absolute delight to read and took me away to another time and place. A place that is seldom seen by Westerners, let alone, females. The book takes you into the lives of females and their roles within the Arab culture. It is written with such feeling and detail that one feels that you are present among the women. The story is captivating and I found myself reading till the early morning hours waiting in anticipation as to what her next encounter would be. It provides insight and opens your eyes to a world that is hidden from most people. I currently live in Saudi Arabia and know how difficult it is to penetrate into the circle of Arab females. I have read the book several times and thoroughly enjoy every page. Fernea's other books are also a pleasure to read and would definetly recommend her books to anyone interested in learning more about Arab women and their culture. She has travelled throughout the Middle East and has experienced the changes the area has gone through both politically and socially over the past 35 years. Her books document this progress and also capture the rich traditions that still exist.
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am 30. August 1999
I picked up this book as a result of a Cultural Anthropology class, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Fernea never claims to be a trained anthropologist at the time she traveled to Iraq, she merely recounts her experiences as they happened. She was traveling with her anthropologist husband. For those who say she was a tourist who suddenly claimed to be an expert, I think they should have read her comments more closely. Perhaps they are among those who skip to chapter 1 without reading the foreward???
Let me stress again, Fernea was only recording her experiences as an American woman in a remote Iraqi village. Upon returning to the US she continued to study the region, and went on to teach Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin. I would hardly say she took a little vacation and immediately claimed to be an expert! Obviously, her life in the village of El Nahra impacted her life greatly.
This book was great, and very readable. I would recommend it to anyone curious about women's life in remote Iraqi society.
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am 23. Mai 2000
I was assigned to read the book while in an upper level history class to gain a cultural aspect into the lives of the people we were studying about. The story truly brings out what many textbooks do not, by having a sense of personality. I found myself becoming more and more involved with the characters, and often read the book while I should have been tending to other studies. A must read for anyone interested in the field of middle Eastern studies or just interested in the Middle East itself.
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am 18. Oktober 1997
I cannot give this review without some personal background - I was a student of Robert Fernea's Middle EasternAnthropology class in 1972 at the University of Texas - "Guests of the Shiek" (duh) was the textbook for the course. I failed this class - didn't even read the book. Some years later,I picked it up again, and could not put it down. I was 18 when I took the course and about 22 when I read the book - I had always been interested inEgyptology and Middle Eastern life, and for that reason I guess, I just devoured this book, set free from university pressure. Mrs. Fernea delivered one of the mostunbiased and factually accurate renditions of the muslim culture I have ever read, and this is in the aftereffect of having been to the Middle East myself, several times.As she points out, we only see the menwho come on Western shores from Islam and we (western people) cannot understand these men's seeming lack of all decorum, especially in terms of dating and sex. But from this book, we can see that these sheltered men have been taught since birth that women who showed themselves are immoral women,and are reacting to a situation in the only way they know how to - i.e. in assuming that any woman who dresses scantily is inviting male attention and is not anything but a promiscuous woman. What is not so obvious is that women in Muslim society wield alot of power behind the scenes - who can their sons marry, what family do the daughters marry into, how much and what kind of education to the children, male or female get, etc.Americans of today don't think alot about these issues, but they should since they shape the next generation. Lastly, I will just say that this is an enchanting book and a very easy slide into another world for anyone with an open mind. It changed my life, truly. CM
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I recently read Guests of the Sheik for one of my classes. Not only did I find the book informative, but I was also so enthralled by it that I found myself neglecting other work. Many of the other books that I have read for my class I find to be cluttered with the author's prejudices. When Fernea to Iraq with her husband she was not a social anthropologist, like her husband. She did not have the base of over-analyzation that many "orientalists" write from. Her book is entirely observation without judgement. If you want to read about women's life in a veiled society, this is perfect. You'll be surprised at what you discover about this culture, which is so often portrayed as oppressive and backwards.
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am 27. Januar 1998
I borrowed this book from a colleague of mine and carried it around for five months, not having time to sit and read it. Oh I wish I had read it five months earlier! It is so well written, capturing the very essence of life in the Middle East. But what really struck me was that much of the culture that was described by Fernea still exists in various shapes and forms. I lived in an oasis village in the United Arab Emirates, and though we knew it was the 90's, the locals held to customs and ideas as if nothing had changed, only the roads now were paved. Extraordinary story from the female perspective. A must read.
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am 13. Februar 1999
What is this trend that we Americans seem to be following? We visit foreign country, meet the natives, learn very little about their culture and customs, and suddenly we are experts worthy of writing books on our experiences. This is the unfortunate case in this travesty. Elizabeth Warnock Fernea is the only person who could have celebrated Ramadan in Iraq without understanding the significance of the celebration. Her prose is boring, and every chapter is merely a very brief overview of the subject. I spent the entire book hoping the next chapter would be better than the one I was reading. It never was.
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am 20. August 1999
I was so pleased to see that Amazon sells this book by Ms. Ferneau. I read it about 5-6 years ago in a freshman college anthropology class and have thought of it ever since. Her writing was easy to read and she truly made you feel as if you were there with her experiencing Arab life for yourself. This is a wonderful read for anyone interested in learning more about other cultures especially from a female perspective.
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am 7. Dezember 1997
this book is both depressing and uplifting....tormenting and joyful....you will refuse to turn off your bedroom light until fernea has written her last word....the story lingers in your heart for a long time....opens the worlds eyes to a country so often misunderstood....fernea will have you laughing while still wiping away tears....a must read!!!!
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