Morocco: Recommended Books and Movies

Recommended Reading:

A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke
This book follows Suzanna Clarke’s experience of buying a dilapidated Moroccan riad in Fez with her husband in a mission to restore it to its former glory.

In Morocco by Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton shares her colorful travel memoir “In Morocco”. Wharton writes about her time in 1920 travelling through Morocco as the guest of Hubert Lyautey, French Governor General of the Protectorate.

Morocco That Was by Walter Harris

Walter Harris first arrived in Morocco in 1887 as a correspondent for The Times of London. He died in Tangier in 1933 having lived through the tumultuous last years of Morocco’s ruling Sultans and the loss of the country’s independence. Published in 1921, Morocco That Was is a first-hand narrative of that pivotal turning point in Morocco’s history.

The Caliph’s House – A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah

In this book, English travel writer Tahir Shah shares an entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. Equally hilarious and harrowing, this is the story of his family’s move from London to the city of Casablanca. Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Shah documents his family’s move to Casablanca to renovate a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea that once belonged to the city’s caliph or spiritual leader.

The Last Storytellers- Tales from the Heart of Morocco by Richard Hamilton

Marrakech is the essence and lifeblood of Morocco’s ancient storytelling tradition. Storytellers have gathered in Jemaa el Fna square for nearly a thousand years to recount ancient folktales to rapt audiences. A unique chain of oral tradition previously passed seamlessly from generation to generation. A tradition teetering on the brink of extinction. After many years studying the storytelling tradition on Jemaa el-Fna and witnessing first hand the death throes of this vibrant and captivating tradition, Richard Hamilton recognized a need to preserve this dying art.

Lords of the Atlas by Gavin Maxwell

Set in the medieval city of Marrakesh and the majestic kasbahs of the High Atlas mountains, `Lords of the Atlas’ tells the extraordinary story of the Madani and T’hami el Glaoui, warlord brothers who carved out a feudal fiefdom in southern Morocco in the early twentieth century. Quislings of the French colonial administration, they combined the aggression of mobsters with the opulence of princes, and ruled with a mixture of flamboyance and terror.

The Sand Child by Tahar Ben Jelloun

This book documents the extraordinary story of the rise and fall of the Glaoui brothers reign over Marrakech and the kasbahs to the south. Many of these kasbahs lie along the road from Marrakech to the Sahara.

Explore Guidebooks:

There are many great Morocco guidebooks and resources that you can purchase or check out at the library. These resources will help you research what you’d like to see on your trip, information on the good places to eat and stay, and also plenty of historical and cultural background. Even if you take a tour, I still recommend getting a guidebook. It’s useful for understanding the country and being a resource for free time you may have on the tour.

Favorite Morocco Guidebooks and Resources:

Moon’s Morocco
Fodor’s Essential Morocco
Eyewitness’ Morocco
Lonely Planet’s Morocco
Rough Guides’ The Rough Guide to Morocco

Watch:

Le Coiffeur du Quartier des Pauvres by Mohammed Reggab – gain insight into the poor, working-class of Casablanca.

Lawrence of Arabia – includes scenes filmed at the famous Ait Ben Haddou, though the movie is about events that take place in Jordan.

Morocco – Josef von Sternberg’s 1930 production of Morocco stars the legendary Marlene Dietrich as a cabaret singer, and a very young Gary Cooper as a French foreign Legionnaire. They fall in love, but their relationship is marred by his womanizing, and the appearance of a rich suitor who wants Dietrich for himself.

Casablanca – starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Raines, though not filmed in Morocco, does show the world of spies and refugees in Vichy-controlled Morocco just before the Torch Allied landings in 1942. It made the city Casablanca famous among travelers and a replica of Rick’s Bar was built in Casablanca.

The Man Who Knew Too Much – by Alfred Hitchcock with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, depicts a family vacationing in Morocco who accidentally stumble upon an assassination plot. The conspirators are determined to prevent them from interfering, and all kinds of drama ensues: the film features a famous scene in Marrakech’s Djemaa El Fna square.

Othello – by Orson Welles. Shot in Essaouira in 1952.

Parts Unknown – Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown in Season 1, Episode 6 visits Tangier. He drinks mint tea, explores the souk, and discovers the strange and the colorful. While Tangier is not the most exciting of Moroccan cities and very touristy – it is fun to see Morocco from Bourdain’s perspective.

Crossing Borders – Inspiring documentary that follows four Moroccan and four American university students as they travel together through Morocco and, in the process of discovering “The Other,” discover themselves.

Cookbooks

A Month in Marrakesh: Recipes from the Heart of Morocco – a great cookbook for preparing the most common day to day dishes served in a Moroccan kitchen.

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