Roads to Nowhere

Roads to Nowhere is a candid account of the author’s experiences as a young British colonial officer who served in South Arabia during the critical years leading up to Britain’s headlong departure.

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Today part of the Republic of Yemen, Aden has long passed from British consciousness. Yet it was Queen Victoria’s first imperial acquisition and, for 128 years, a vitally important British strategic base and commercial staging post. In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Britain was still the predominant foreign power in the Middle East, but in 1967, overwhelmed by an acute sterling crisis and a failure of political will, the Labour government under Harold Wilson abandoned Aden. This precipitate withdrawal left the newly formed Federation of South Arabia and its peoples to the mercies of rival national socialist revolutionaries, who, after a period of bloody civil war, established, with Russian backing, the Arab world’s only Marxist-Leninist tyranny, and left a twenty-seven-year legacy of impoverishment and repression.


  • John Harding

    Born in 1934, John Harding was educated at Stowe and Trinity College, Cambridge. After National Service with the Welsh Guards, he joined the Colonial Administrative Service in 1959, serving in South Arabia from 1960 to 1965 as an assistant adviser in the Eastern Aden Protectorate, an administrator in Aden, and a political officer in Lahej and Radfan. After Arabia, he emigrated to Australia, where he worked in an Australian university before resuming a full-time legal career with a major City of London law firm. Formerly a Vice President of the Alpine Club, he has written and lectured extensively about mountain adventure. His book, Pyrenean High Route, described by Sir Christian Bonington as “a ski-mountaineering classic”, was shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Prize for mountaineering literature. Married, with three daughters and numerous grandchildren, he and his wife Georgina now live on the Gower Peninsula in Wales.

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Dimensions 22.8 × 15.5 cm



1 September 2009