Freya Stark, a trailblazing female explorer in the mid-20th century, is the subject of this well researched biography. Freya Stark was raised in Italy and England by separated parents, and lead a colorful life even before she decided to take on the exploration of the Middle East. She had learned languages as part of her colorful education, and took on Arabic as a special challenge after the end of her First World War nursing career. She challenged herself to traveling in war torn regions and among reclusive groups in Arabia and became an invaluable resource for British intelligence during the Second World War. While Stark had incredible journeys of exploration and made major contributions to cartography, her personal life was a mess. Her mother was controlling and abusive, and an industrial accident early in her life made her self-conscious for the rest of her life. She had many failed relationships beginning in her early 20's, and may have contributed to her ability to convince herself that everyone was in love with her. Interpersonal interactions were contentious at times and and her work with two other female archeologists famously failed due to Stark's abrasive personality. Her personality also ran her into trouble with the British foreign service after World War Two, when her local knowledge was less desperately needed. She also decides to marry her gay best friend despite knowing for years he was not interested in women. Needless to say, that relationship was difficult.This biography is at times highly academic, including passages from both Stark's letters and works as well as those around her. At other times there is a somewhat friendly and delicate tone when addressing personal matters in Stark's life, like a highly polite friend letting us in on a piece of gossip. Overall, Jane Fletcher Geniesse does a remarkable job telling the story of Freya Stark. Now, on to read in Stark's own words about her adventures!