Marrakesh Express


Suggested Books on Morocco

Because many of you have written me with various questions about Morocco, I have compiled a list of books that might address some of these questions plus added a few favorites of my own; each is described briefly. They are divided into the categories below for easier access, and within category are listed alphabetically by author.

Also for ease, the blue underlined titles can be ordered directly from the online bookstore by clicking on the title, since this page is in association with Some books are listed as "out of print", and you can often locate them on two consortiums of booksellers called or those, and indeed all, can be found at a library; university libraries are especially good for older books.

For information about the video "Threads of Time," on the artisans who make the wedding textiles of Fez, click here.

Let me know ( if you have suggestions; I'm sure I've forgotten something.











SOCIAL SCIENCE (Women, Society, History, Politics)


Baker, Alison Voices Of Resistance: Oral Histories Of Moroccan Women ISBN: 0791436225

Baker chronicles the involvement of Moroccan women leaders and working class activists in Morocco's struggle for independence from France, finally won in 1956. You can read the entire fascinating, nearly unknown tale, much of it in the women's own words, or dip in and out of it.

Davis, Susan S. Patience & Power: Women's Lives In A Moroccan Village ISBN: 0870735047

This readable overview of traditional village life describes how these Muslim women do not fit the submissive stereotype but play important roles in their families and communities. See how the weavers whose work is on Marrakesh Express spend the rest of their time.

Fernea, Elizabeth In Search Of Islamic Feminism: One Woman's Global Journey ISBN: 0385475187

A new book by one of the major American authors writing on contemporary Muslim women

FATIMA MERNISSI is the leading sociologist, feminist and Muslim writing on Morocco today. Her prolific work fits into several categories, including women and Islam; I will put it all together here for easy reference.

Mernissi, Fatima Dreams Of Trespass : Tales Of A Harem Girlhood ISBN: 0201489376

Beautifully-written semi-autobiographical description of growing up as a young woman in Fes in the 1940s. Includes many examples of strong traditional women and of the limitations they face. One reviewer says it is "...part fairy tale, part feminist manifesto...both magical and political."

_____ Doing Daily Battle: Interviews With Moroccan Women ISBN: 0813514177

Interviews with eight women, from different regions and social classes, give a real flavor of ordinary women's lives.

_____ Beyond The Veil: Male-Female Dynamics In A Modern Muslim Society ISBN: 0253204232

Contrasts the views of Freud and a famous tenth century Islamic philosopher, al-Ghazali, on sexuality West & East, and gives examples of conflicts in this area for modern Moroccans.

_____ Islam And Democracy ISBN: 0201624834

An interesting and readable discussion of how early Islam was democratic and how and when it changed. Introduction focuses on the 1991 Gulf War.

_____ The Veil And The Male Elite ISBN: 0201632217

 Donít be put off by the title. This book gives a lucid and interesting description of the Prophet Mohammedís relations with women during his lifetime. These are used as the basis to argue he respected women and that many restrictions on women grew out of later male-oriented interpretations of the Prophetís teachings.


Bowen, Donna Lee and Early, Evelyn Eds. Everyday Life In The Muslim Middle East ISBN: 0253207797

Contains selections from Morocco and other countries on topics including generations and life passages, male-female relations, popular religion, entertainment and performances, and home, community and work.

Crapanzano, Vincent The Hamadsha: A Study Of Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry ISBN: 0520045106

Describes the practices, and their social & economic bases, of a "Sufi" brotherhood that cures the ills of its members by trance dancing.

Crapanzano, Vincent Tuhami: Portrait Of A Moroccan ISBN: 0226118711

Life story of an atypical, but interesting, Moroccan man who believes himself possessed by a spirit.

Davis, Susan and Douglas Adolescence In A Moroccan Town: Making Social Sense ISBN: 0813513685

Part of a Harvard cross-cultural study of adolescence, this book examines young people's relations with their families, friends, and the opposite sex as well as their school and leisure activities and their aspirations. Direct quotes from the young Moroccans illustrate their views.

Dwyer, Kevin Arab Voices: The Human Rights Debate In The Middle East ISBN: 0520074912

Interviews with female and male activists mainly from North Africa, including Morocco, give a flavor of the varied activities in this area.

Fernea, Elizabeth A Street In Marrakech ISBN: 0881334049

A readable account of an American family moving into a traditional part of Marrakesh and getting acquainted with their Moroccan neighbors. Gives you an idea what's going on behind some of those doors you may pass in the Marrakesh medina.

Munson, Henry The House Of Si Abd Allah: The Oral History Of A Moroccan Family ISBN: 0300050291 out of print

A wonderful picture of contemporary Moroccan society presented through quotes of an older illiterate man and his young educated niece as they each describe their lives and relatives.

Rabinow, Paul Reflections On Fieldwork In Morocco ISBN: 0520035291

An anthropologist's discussion of some of his problems doing research, this book illuminates some general aspects of the culture -- look for them if you visit.

Rosen, Lawrence Bargaining For Reality ISBN: 0226726118

Complex and wonderfully accurate picture of how Moroccan society functions, centered around individuals and how they define and negotiate -- rather than merely perceive -- reality. And you thought one only bargains for rugs!

Waterbury, John North For The Trade; The Life & Times Of A Berber Merchant ISBN: 0520021347 out of print

Focusing on one man, describes the widespread phenomenon of southern Berber merchants who control the grocery business in Arab parts of Morocco.


Maxwell, Gavin Lords Of The Atlas ISBN: 071260068X out of print

Lively account of the colorful leader, the Glaoui, who held parts of the High Atlas mountains against the Sultan earlier this century. Visitors will probably see ruins of one of his many palaces; the Krupp cannon that made it all possible is on display in one in the center of Ouarzazate.

Porch, Douglas The Conquest Of Morocco ISBN: 088064057X

A lively description of the French takeover in the early 1900s, described by the author as "...a story of people, of chaos, villany, glory, misery, violence, greed, avarice and maladministration."


Waterbury, John The Commander Of The Faithful; The Moroccan Political Elite - A Study In Segmented Politics ISBN: 0231033265 out of print

A study of the Moroccan political elite, many of whom are still in power. It tells all and names names, and as a consequence has been banned in Morocco -- and read by everyone.

CULTURE (Textiles, Food, Travel, Crafts)

Dennis, Landt and Lisl Morocco: Design From Casablanca To Marrakesh ISBN: 0517574209

I love the 350 stunning color photos that capture various aspects of the visual feast that is Morocco, and architecture buffs will enjoy the different Moroccan homes and adaptations portrayed.

Courtney-Clark, Margaret, and Brooks, GeraldineImazighen: The Vanishing Traditions of Berber WomenISBN: 0500017387(Thames and Hudson, Ltd., London 1996)††††

Covering Berbers in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, this book has chapters on landscape and architecture, weaving and rural pottery in which we learn about their relation to womenís lives.The 250 color illustrations are gorgeous: my favorites are the photos of the women.Although out of print, in March 2001 the bibliofind site had about 20 copies and powells had some too.

Fiske, P., Pickering, W.R., & Yohe, R. Eds. From The Far West: Carpets And Textiles Of Morocco ISBN: 0295965940 out of print, but may be available from The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.

This has been the basic text on Moroccan textiles for years. Contains several articles and color photos of carpets, flatweaves and pillows from most of Moroccoís weaving areas. Now out of print, but Amazon will look for it.

Grammet, I., De Meersman, M. (eds), et al : Splendeurs du Maroc(Editions Plume, Paris 1998 )

For those of you who read French, this book is a real treat Ė and the photos still are, even for those who donít.There are 400 pages of excellent technical text and high quality photos (586 color, 62 b/w, 4 line, 3 maps).They cover the topics of weaving (rugs and clothing), jewelry, traditional hairstyles, makeup and tatoos, architecture, furniture, weapons, pottery and manuscripts.These items were exhibited at Tervuren's Musee de l'Afrique Centrale in Belgium.Some of the classic photos of Besancenot from the 1930s are included for comparison with the contemporary clothing and jewelry.Not available in the US but probably in French-speaking Canada, and I recently found 2 copies on the bibliofind site.

Harris, Walter The Morocco That Was out of print

A London Times Correspondent writes about Morocco at the turn of the century, before the French protectorate; he lived in Tangier for 30 years. He's often humorous, and I find sometimes condescending, but it's an interesting picture of a vanished Morocco.

Morse, Kitty Cooking at the Kasbah ISBN: 081181503X

Beautiful photos and cultural ambience add to the recipes, many of which are not found elsewhere, especially some of the Moroccan Jewish dishes. The rug that's 'binding' the cover is just like one of my favorites, and resembles many on my site!

Parker, Richard B. A Practical Guide To Islamic Monuments In Morocco out of print

A former ambassador to Morocco discusses Islamic architecture and many of the monuments. Useful book for the do-it-yourself tourist who is interested in history and monuments.

Pickering, Brooke, Pickering, W. R, and Yohe, R. Moroccan Carpets ISBN: 1856691462

A book with gorgeous photos of various styles of Moroccan carpets, and maps of the areas they come from.

Stannard, Dorothy Ed. Insight Guides Morocco ISBN: 0887297153

A decent traveller's guide.

Wolfert, Paula and Gael Green Couscous And Other Good Foods From Morocco ISBN: 0060913967

 My favorite Moroccan cookbook.I value it both for its authenticity (you can tell she knows her business when she tells you how to preserve green coriander/cilantro, and the recipes are great) and its notes on the cultural contexts of food.


Abouzeid, Leila Year Of The Elephant ISBN: 029279603X

This historical and novel describes a Moroccan womanís courageous actions in the Moroccan Resistance in the 1950s, contrasting them with her relationship with her husband.

Ardizzone, Tony Larabiís Ox ISBN: 0915943727

This collection of loosely connected stories of Americans in todayís Morocco draws attention to many interesting aspects of the culture, several that a traveler might encounter. It grew out of the authorís stay as a Fulbright scholar there.

Benjelloun, Tahar The Sand Child ISBN: 0345357108 out of print

This book won France's prestigious Goncourt prize for literature. It questions gender in an intersting way, though some may find the postmodernist style difficult.

PAUL BOWLES was an American writer and composer, born in 1911, who has lived most of his life in Morocco. Gore Vidal has said "His short stories are among the best ever written by an American". Many of his novels and short stories attempt to capture the thoughts and feelings of illiterate Moroccans. His Western characters are often drawn to the uncanny aspects of the culture. Bowles writes brilliantly, but has a fascination with violence that permeates some of his works. He has taped and translated several works by Moroccans; Five Eyes contains some.

Bowles, Paul The Sheltering Sky ISBN: 0880015829

Bowles' first novel, describing the impact of Arab life on three jaded Americans earlier this century. The film by Bertolucci shows the gorgeous fortified villages in the South.

_____ Collected Stories 1939-1976 1983 ISBN: 0876853971

_____ Let It Come Down ISBN: 087685479X

Bowles' second novel, about an American clerk coming to the Tangier of the 50s to escape a boring life and his encounters with sex, drugs and violence. Dark, vintage, Bowles.

_____ Five Eyes ISBN: 0876854099 out of print

Stories by five Moroccan authors, collected and translated from Moroccan Arabic by Paul Bowles.


Geertz, Clifford Islam Observed ISBN: 0226285111

A short modern classic study showing how profoundly Islam differs, according to its adaptation to a specific ecology and cultural environment. Uses Morocco and Indonesia as examples.

Gellner, Ernest Saints Of The Atlas out of print

Describes the political and social roles of local saints (an anomaly in orthodox Islam), in Southern Morocco. A scholarly book, but this phenomenon will interest serious students of Islam.

Gibb, H.A.R. Mohammedanism ISBN: 0198880170 out of print

Although Muslims dislike the title, feeling it implies they worship Mohammed, this book presents a clear description of the basic tenets of Islam.

Hitti, Philip Islam: A Way Of Life out of print

A brief introduction (ca. 200 pp), to the religious, political and cultural aspects of Islam.

Pickthall, Mohamed Marmaduke The Meaning Of The Glorious Koran ISBN: 9995712172

A widely-used English translation of the Muslim holy book.  

Sells Michael (Translator). Approaching the Qur'an : The Early Revelations ISBN 1883991269

This fine new translation of the early chapters of the Qurían discusses the sound and meaning of each verse and includes a CD with professional recitations. Highly recommended.


Bacon, Dan Lonely Planet Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook ISBN: 0864420714

Good for the traveler who just needs a few essential phrases.

Harrell, Richard S. A Basic Course In Moroccan Arabic ISBN: 0878400052

The Moroccan dialect of Arabic is quite different from others, but if you're really brave you may want to try this.

Harrell, Richard Dictionary Of Moroccan Arabic ISBN: 0878400079

Very useful if you're serious about getting into the language.

Back to Marrakesh Express introduction.