Friends of South Yemen

Pattern strip

A selection of books about Yemen

Crowd funding enables publication of Socotra guide book

Bradt Travel Guide to Socotra

Socotra is a unique island. And the first guide book to this island was financed in a unique way – through crowd funding.

During her lengthy career as a travel writer and founder of Bradt Travel Guides, Hilary Bradt (now 79) had visited some of the most spectacular destinations in the world. But Socotra, located 60 miles east of the Horn of Africa, remained firmly at the top of her wish list. When Bradt was finally able to visit the island with her colleague Janice Booth, aged 81, in February, it exceeded their expectations.

The pair were so impressed, they decided to ditch the short leaflet they had planned and produce the “first and only” guidebook to Socotra. Made up of enormous sand dunes, craggy mountains, beautiful beaches and unique wildlife, the Yemeni island is often referred to as the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.”

But the impact of COVID 19 saw Bradt’s sales drop by 75 per cent and there was no money to publish the Socotra guide. However, Bradt and Booth were determined to release the book in November of this year because of the political developments in Socotra, and raised the money through a crowd funding campaign. “I think this might be the first time any guidebook publisher has tried this route,” Bradt said. The guide is out now and selling well.

Everything needed for a successful trip is covered, from pre-departure planning, getting there, tour operators and where to stay. There is plenty of background information on the history, people, language and culture, followed by a geographical breakdown covering everywhere from the capital Hadibo to Ayhaft Canyon National Park, Qaria Lagoon, Rosh Marine Protected Area, Homhil Reserve, Terbak village and Hoq cave, Qalansiyah, Diksam Plateau and the forest of Firhimin. There is also a section on vocabulary, an endemic wildlife check list and suggested sources of further information.

The archipelago has an exceptionally large number of endemic species. Of the 220 bird species recorded, 11 are endemic, including the relatively recently identified Socotra Buzzard. Closer to the ground, an estimated 307 plant species are endemic. More than 600 species of insects, some 100 land and freshwater molluscs, around 80 arachnids, some dozen myriapods, four land- and fresh-water crabs, 30 reptiles and 14 mammals are waiting for the tourist cameras.

All the land snails, 90% of the reptiles and about 60% of the spiders are unique to the archipelago. With its superb beaches and dramatically varied landscapes (mountains, forest, ravines, sand-dunes, beaches, caves) Socotra is a prime target for tourism, which will need handling with extreme care. Strict regulations are in force to preserve the island’s natural heritage and much of it has protected status, but some unprotected land has already been sold to potential developers. This pristine and relatively unknown little island, so full of natural treasures, may be on the brink of a very different future.

This tiny paradise is now potentially under threat after it was recently pulled into the civil war that has beset mainland Yemen since 2015. It is feared that the island’s rare endemic species, including surreal Dragon Blood trees endemic to Socotra and spectacular UNESCO-recognized landscapes, could be destroyed if political uncertainty prevents their protection. The future of the island hangs in the balance. Anyone who reads this guide book will be convinced that it must be preserved as an ecotourism destination.

Yemen in Crisis: The Road to War

By Helen Lackner

Yemen in Crisis: The Road to War

Expert analysis of Yemen’s social and political crisis, with profound implications for the fate of the Arab World

The democratic promise of the 2011 Arab Spring has unravelled in Yemen, triggering a disastrous crisis of civil war, famine, militarization, and governmental collapse with serious implications for the future of the region. Yet as expert political researcher Helen Lackner argues, the catastrophe does not have to continue, and we can hope for and help build a different future in Yemen.

Fuelled by Arab and Western intervention, the civil war has quickly escalated, resulting in thousands killed and millions close to starvation. Suffering from a collapsed economy, the people of Yemen face a desperate choice between the Huthi rebels on the one side and the internationally recognized government propped up by the Saudi-led coalition and Western arms on the other.

In this invaluable analysis, Helen Lackner uncovers the roots of the social and political conflicts that threaten the very survival of the state and its people. Importantly, she argues that we must understand the roots of the current crisis so that we can hope for a different future for Yemen and the Middle East.

With a preface exploring the US’s central role in the crisis.

Yemen Divided

By Noel Brehony

Yemen Divided:
The Story of a Failed State in South Arabia

South Yemen has come to be seen as a potential Al-Qaeda stronghold and at the heart of a separatist movement threatening to rip apart southern Arabia. How has this country of forbidding mountains and arid deserts gone from British colony to communist state and then to ’terrorist base’ in just half a century?

In ‘Yemen Divided’, author and Middle East expert Noel Brehony tells for the first time the comprehensive history of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). He explains the power politics that came to form a communist republic a few hundred miles from the holiest site in Islam, and the process and conflicts that led to Yemeni unification in 1990. The impact of the PDRY is still felt today as Saudi and government armed forces engage with Houthis in the North and unrest continues to simmer across the South.

Yemen Divided’ is an important book for anyone wanting to understand why Yemen, sensitive neighbour of Saudi Arabia and strategically vital to Middle East security, has veered towards massive instability.

Noel Brehony is a veteran commentator on that oxymoron of a place, known as modern Yemen, and he has produced a work that manages to be comprehensive and critical, but never disdainful.’ - Philip Robins, University of Oxford

A timely account of an important period in Yemen’s modern history.’ - Ginny Hill, Chatham House

More books about Yemen

BOUCEK, Christopher, Yemen on the Brink: War in Saada - From Local Insurrection to National Challenge, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2010.

BRANDT, Marieke, Tribes and Politics in Yemen: A History of the Houthi Conflict, London: C. Hurst & Co, 2017.

BREHONY, Noel ed, Hadhramaut and its Diaspora: Yemeni Politics, Identity and Migration, London: I.B. Tauris, 2017.

BREHONY, Noel, Yemen Divided: The Story of a Failed State in South Arabia, London: I.B. Tauris, 2011.

BREHONY, Noel and JONES Clive, Britain’s Departure from Aden and South Arabia: Without Glory but Without Disaster (Middle Eastern Studies)

BURROWES, Robert, Historical Dictionary of Yemen, Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2009.

CARAPICO, Sheila, ed, Arabia Incognita: Dispatches from Yemen and the Gulf, Charlottesville: Just World Books, 2016.

CLARK, Victoria, Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes, New Haven; Yale University Press, 2010.

DAWSARI, Nadwa, We Lived Days in Hell: Civilian Perspectives on the Conflict in Yemen USA; Centre for Civilians in Conflict, 2016.

DRESH, Paul, A History of Modern Yemen, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

EDWARDS, Frank, The Gaysh: A History of the Aden Protectorate Levies 1927-61 and the Federal Regular Army of South Arabia 1961-67

GAVIN, J.R., Aden Under British Rule 1839–1967, London: C. Hurst & Co, 1975.

GHARAVU, Tina and NABI Youssef, Last of the Dictionary Men: Stories from the South Shields Yemeni Sailors, Gilgamesh Publishing 2013

HALLIDAY, Fred, Arabia Without Sultans, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974.

HARDING, John, Roads to Nowhere: A South Arabian Odyssey, 1960–1965.

HILL, Ginny, Yemen Endures: Civil War, Saudi Adventurism and the Future of Arabia, London: C. Hurst & Co, 2017.

HULL, EDMUND, High Value Target: Countering al-Qaeda in Yemen, Washington D.C,.Potomac Books, 2011.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, Unpunished Massacre: Yemen’s Failed Response to the Friday of Dignity Killings, US 2013.

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP, The Houthis: from Saada to Sanaa, Brussels 2014.

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP, Yemen, is Peace Possible?, Brussels, 2016.

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP, Yemen’s Southern Question, Avoiding a Breakdown, Brussels, 2013.

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP, Yemen’s Military-Security Reform: Seeds of New Conflict, Brussels 2013.

JERRETT, Martin and Al-HADDAR, M, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: From Global Insurgent to State Enforcer, Hate Speech International, 2017.

JOHNSEN, Gregory, The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda and America’s War in Arabia, New York: Norton, 2012.

KOSTINER, Joseph, South Yemen’s Revolutionary Strategy, 1970-1985: From Insurgency To Bloc Politics, New York, Routledge, 1990.

LACKNER, Helen, PDYR Yemen, Outpost of Socialist Development in Arabia, London: Ithaca Press, 1985.

LACKNER, Helen, Yemen’s Peaceful Transition from Autocrarcy: Could It Have Succeeded?, Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2016.

LEACH, Hugh, Seen in the Yemen: Travelling with Freya Stark and Others, Arabian Publishing, 2011

O’BALANCE, Edgar, The War in Yemen, London: Faber & Faber, 1971.

PETERSON J.E., Tribes and Politics in Yemen, Arabian Peninsula Background Note APBN 007, 2008.

PHILLIPS, Sarah, Yemen and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, London: International Institute of Strategic Studies, 2011.

ROMANO, Amy, A Historical Atlas of Yemen (Historical Atlases of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East)

SALISBURY, Peter, Yemen: Stemming the Rise of the Chaos State, London, Chatham House, 2016.

STOOKEY, Robert, South Yemen: A Marxist Republic in Arabia, New York: Routledge, 1982.

WARD, Christopher, The Water Crisis in Yemen: Managing Extreme Water Security in the Middle East, London: I.B. Tauris, 2015.

WALKER, Jonathan, Aden Insurgency: The Savage War in South Arabia, 1962-67, Spellmount, 2005.

WEIR, Shelagh, A Tribal Order: Politics and Law in the Mountains of Yemen, London: British Museum Press, 2007.