Monday, December 14, 2009

From the Holy Mountain By William Dalrymple, reviewed by John Benny

From the Holy Mountain By William Dalrymple

Reviewed by
Name: John Benny
School: Fr Agnel school,Noida

From the holy mountain is a striking book that takes us on a journey through the southern frontier of Byzantium, following the footsteps of John moschos, a Byzantium traveller monk who undertook the same journey in 578 A.D. The journey takes us through the terrible terrains of Greece, Istanbul, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Israel, Egypt, which took about 5 months and many dangerous situations. Travelling from cities to cities and monasteries to monasteries, he has penned down the direct account of many priests, monks, people, and Christians whose situation has worsened in these areas due to the growing Muslim dominance.

This book gives us valuable information about these politically tense areas, which can be credited to religious backwardness and conflicts.
It has dug deep to present the case of Middle East’s downtrodden Christians. Leavening with his characteristic humor and jauntiness, but also profoundly shocking that every Christian would ask himself “why did I not know this”?

The author has undergone many dangerous situations like the one in Cairo where he was lucky enough to be given the protection of two pickups of armed men where killing of ordinary people and tourists is not new. On a lighter note he also gives us funny instances about his driver’s cousin’s experience with the Syrian president Azad where the latter in a fit of anger abuses Azad not being aware that he is the president of Syria.
And the humorous manner in which he narrates six attempts made by a village of Coptic Christians to kill it’s forced Jewish leader and the latter finally gets killed in the seventh attempt amidst speculation of him being a Gjinn.

Just like his other books, William Dalrymple has put in a lot of research and painstaking efforts to make the accounts in this book truthful and honest. With his brilliant narration and humor he has proved that even history can be made interesting and addictive. This book is a must read for anyone because most of us are ignorant about these parts of the world.

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