Book Review: Lords of the Atlas

Lords of the Atlas book coverLords of the Atlas is prefaced, like many histories, with markers that help orient the reader in the world they are about to enter: a chronology of events, a genealogical chart for tracking names and lineage, a map of tribal territories. What sets apart this historical account is the adept blending of the political with the personal.

The rise and fall of one of modern Morocco’s most powerful families dovetailed with the tumultuous years of colonialism and independence, and the microcosm of world politics being acted out on the Moroccan stage. Author Gavin Maxwell never loses sight of the people involved in the theater of the “Moroccan Question.” Much like the oft-quoted Walter Harris, this book brings the personalities into the power politics at play. Against a landscape of dates, successions, treaties and conquests, Maxwell paints for us portraits of the individuals involved, and the result is a compelling narrative of ambition, loyalty, ego and mortality. (more…)

Visiting a Tannery in Fez

Traveling to Morocco, the ancient city of Fez and its medina can feel very foreign indeed. The walkways wind up and down through the hilly city, too narrow for cars or all but the slimmest of carts and carriages. The medina is much like it was hundreds of years ago; the pace and structure of life still follow the old rhythms. You can feel the age of the medina—and its history—with each step. Nowhere is this truer than in Fez’s tanneries.


Introduction to Taliouine, Morocco

taliouine moroccoTaliouine is a small village located near the city of Taroudant, in the southern Souss region of Morocco. The village is situated in the Anti Atlas Mountains, which tend to be less hospitable due to hotter temperatures, rockier terrain and the harsh desert, which lies at its base.

Despite the difficult living conditions, Morocco’s history here was written by Glaoui (or El Haj T’hami el Mezouari el Glaoui), who moved into the area and decided to become “Lord of the Atlas.” Glaoui and his brother ran the Aglawou tribe of southern Morocco. In the 1800s, they created a Kasbah in Taliouine and Telouet. Today, though the Atlas Mountains are primarily populated by the Berbers, in Taliouine, you will meet descendants of Glaoui’s servants. (more…)