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From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium Hardcover – 7 Apr 1997


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st Edition edition (7 April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002555093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002555098
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 564,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. City of Djinns won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The Age of Kali won the French Prix D'Astrolabe and White Mughals won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. The Last Mughal was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. His most recent book, Nine Lives, was published in 2009 to huge acclaim. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Dehli.

(Photo credit: Karoki Lewis)

Product Description

Review

‘Compulsively readable.’ John Julius Norwich, Observer

‘Everything a really good travel book should be: witty, learned and also very funny.’ Eric Newby

‘Any travel writer who is so good at his job as to be brilliant, applauded, loved and needed has to have an unusual list of qualities, and William Dalrymple has them all in aces. Dalrymple’s ear for conversation is as good as Alan Bennett’s. The best and most unexpected book I have read since I forget when.’ Peter Levi

‘A rich stew of history and travel narrative spiced with anecdote, opinion and bon mots…The future of travel literature lies in the hands of gifted authors like Dalrymple who shine their torches into the shadowy hinterland of the human story – the most foreign territory of all.’ Independent

‘Dalrymple stands out as one of our most talented travel writers. Energetic, thoughtful, curious and courageous.’ Sunday Times

‘William Dalrymple has effortlessly assumed the mantle of Robert Byron and Patrick Leigh Fermor.’ Guardian

‘A splendid, effective and impressive book.’ Financial Times

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

“Any travel writer who is so good at his job as to be brilliant, applauded, loved and needed has to have an unusual list of qualities, and William Dalrymple has them all in aces. Dalrymple’s ear for conversation is as good as Alan Bennett’s. The best and most unexpected book I have read since I forget when.”
PETER LEVI

“Nobody but William Dalrymple – and possibly Patrick Leigh Fermor – could have produced so compulsively readable a book.”
JOHN JULIUS NORWICH, 'Observer'

“A rich stew of history and travel narrative spiced with anecdote, opinion and 'bon mots' … The future of travel literature lies in the hands of gifted authors like Dalrymple who shine their torches into the shadowy hinterland of the human story – the most foreign territory of all.”
SARA WHEELER, 'Independent'

“Compelling reading … Dalrymple’s eye for the revealing moment is as acute as ever. 'From the Holy Mountain' is rare indeed: a book that will endure.”
EDWARD MARRIOTT, 'The Times'

“Dalrymple stands out as one of our most talented travel writers. Energetic, thoughtful, curious and courageous.”
ANTHONY SATTIN, 'Sunday Times'

“Dalrymple’s threnody for Eastern Christianity ranks with the great modern travel books, Robert Byron’s 'Road to Oxiana', Patrick Leigh Fermor’s 'Time of Gifts' and Eric Newby’s 'Short Walk in the Hindu Kush'.
ALAN TAYLOR, 'Scotsman'


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Mick Gold on 1 Jan 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I knew William Dalrymple as a fine travel writer after his early success with In Xanadu, a re-enactment of Marco Polo's journey to China. From the Holy Mountain attempts a more ambitious journey, and the author brings it off brilliantly. His narrative is a re-enactment of the travels of a 6th century Byzantine monk, John Moschos, who recorded the religious communities and the miracles he encountered in his book, The Spiritual Meadow.
Dalrymple travels in Moschos's footsteps, from Mount Athos in Greece, to the Great Oasis at Kharga in Upper Egypt. The journey takes Dalrymple across Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Israel before reaching his conclusion on the edge of the Sahara, surrounded by Egyptian army guards bristling with automatic weapons protecting him from Muslim fundamentalists.
The historical theme he brings to life is the way that Christianity began as a religion of the Middle East, centred on Alexandria and Constantinople, long before it became the established faith of Western Europe. But his travels take him through a series of conflicts: the Orthodox Church of Southern Turkey caught in the cross fire of civil war between Kurd nationalists and the Turkish state. In Lebanon, he walks through the remains of the Maronite Christian community who have propelled their country into a disastrous civil war. In Israel, the Orthodox monks and the Palestinian Christians are trying to cope with the growth of Jewish settlements across the Holy Land. And in Egypt, the Coptic Church is menaced by the growth of Muslim fundamentalism.
What makes the book special is the way Dalrymple can sink into Moschos's world.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By ex nihilo on 11 Aug 2003
Format: Paperback
What I most enjoyed about this wonderful book was not the fact that it was packed from cover to cover with knowledge -and it truly is- but the sympathy that the author obviously felt for the people he met in his journey.Dalrymple speaks about them with such a good-humoredly warmth that, after reading his narrative, you feel you would like to know more about their lives and you even worry about what is going to happen to them in the decadent and perilous world that the author depicts. I think this is the real triumph of this book: that the author makes us learn about a truly fascinating world while, at the same time, feeling respect and concern for the people who inhabit it and make it possible.And this is something quite unusual in the usually author-traveler centred travel literature I absolutely recomend it!
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 May 2001
Format: Paperback
It's been two years since I read this book and I am still ecstatic over it. Indeed, if I were to pick up Mr. Dalrymple's narrative again and re-read it, I have no doubt I would be just as moved and fascinated as the first time I read it.
Dalrymple is a master of prose: he paints tragic portraits with his words. Following the path outlined in an old Greek book by the medieval Byzantine tourist and monk John Moschos, Mr. Dalrymple travels through the Aegean, the Levant, and the Nile Valley. From Greece's Mt. Athos to the necropolises of southern Egypt, his journey is a record of history in the making. For what he sees on the way is the end of an era, the end to what his medieval "tour-guide" saw the beginning of: the almost-complete collapse of Eastern Christianity in the Levant. His writing will haunt me forever: old Orthodox churches crumbling to dust; living human relics of the savage persecutions in Armenia at the beginning of the 20th century; abandoned monasteries perched solemnly in the desert. If apocalypse were but silence, I think Mr. Dalrymple has described it perfectly. His Borgesean treatment of this ghostly land is gripping and, at the same time, terrifying.
Various partisan ethnic and political groups have criticized the author of "From the Holy Mountain" for taking a supposedly "unbalanced" view of the decline of Christianity in the Middle East and the mistreatment of the Palestinians. This argument is misguided. Mr.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By stuart_bookless@mdsuk.com on 18 Jan 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book not quite knowing what to expect, I put it down (and pick it up, again and again) wishing it was twice as long, at least. It is without a doubt great read, a good companion to take with you if travelling and in need of a good read.
Simply put this book gives you a feeling for both a set of periods and a place, namely ancient and modern periods of the history of the lands bordering the near east.
The book forces you to look at how we perceive countries in that part of the world against two historical back drops, the ancient times when Byzantium was supreme, and the modern times, where we see mans inhumanity to fellow man pushed to the fore by politics, intolerance and ignorance.
Recommended reading for all those who watch the CNN/BBC broadcasts on the near east and wish to understand the background to what is happening.
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