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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
82
From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium
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on 27 December 2017
When From the Holy Mountain was published in 1997 (20 years ago!), I had just embarked on my first overseas holiday to Egypt. I spent two weeks travelling between Cairo-Luxor-Aswan (and back again) with my tour group - had I read this tale back then, I would probably have wanted to spend much longer and venture much further afield.

Following in the footsteps of two 6th century monks, William Dalrymple takes us on his five month pilgrimage from Mt Athos in Greece, through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, to the Great Kharga Oasis in Upper Egypt. He writes vividly about the distinct landscapes and people he encounters along the way and includes many reference points and stories from the historic journey of the monks (John Mochos and Sophronius) that inspired him. These sit easily alongside Dalrymple's own impressions, discussions and reflections and in this way he creates a wonderful sense of camraderie, a feeling of being alongside him as he travels.

An Observer review on the back cover of the book describes it as "compulsively readable" and I could not have said it any better myself. Wonderfully rich and definitely unputdownable.
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on 30 October 2015
One of the greatest books about contemporary Orthodox East. Dalrymple demonstrates amazing writing skills - a real talent. Ethnographic vignettes, skilfully interwoven with synoptic yet vivid historical accounts of different spiritual centres of the once thriving Greek-speaking Orthodox East. Highly recommended for anyone looking to understand contemporary Orthodox places in the Levant and how they relate to Byzantium.
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on 12 November 2013
It is very interesting to read this book against the background of what is happening now in Syria and surrounding countries. Also very sad to read of the constant ethnic and religious cleansing that was and is taking place in the Middle East. I have recently discovered this author, and am slowly working my way through his books. I love his insights, interest in history and people, love for architecture, sense of humour and the way he tells good tales. Once you have read this book, you know so much more about the subject. I have bought another copy to give away to friends.
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on 24 July 2014
Very interesting insight of the places where early Christianity flourished but is now struggling to maintain a community of any sorts. What I found particularly interesting was the way that the modern state of Israel are rewriting history from an entirely Jewish perspective, ignoring the many and manifold influences that have been there throughout the troubled history of this land. I was in old Acre recently and the guide while standing in the castle, talked of 1948 and the struggle for the Jewish state, but made no mention of the Islamic state or that of the Crusaders who built the castle.
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on 27 March 2014
A tremendous book on so many levels, and it becomes more relevant each day as the religious communities that have been enmeshed for centuries become divvied in the post arab spring 7/11 world of radicalism, extremism and political realpolitik. A forgotten world told in a thoughtful, fascinating, light-hearted way. Should be a must for religious and political readers to see how religion pulls together the social as much as the religious/political fabric of society.
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on 24 September 2014
An account of religion in the Middle East from the sixth century to 1994. I understand today's news as never before, and it also illuminates Anglo Saxon and Celtic history by setting the rise of Christianity herr in context. I have recommended it to my historian friends.
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on 28 December 2012
I bought this on the strength of good reviews as well as the interesting subject and I wasn't disappointed. An outstandingly good book about the early development of Christianity in the Middle East, and about how much/little remains of the Byzantine world (even less now no doubt, 15 years after his journey). Essential background reading for the interested traveller.
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on 19 December 2013
I have never been keen on history but from the beginning I was captivated and was taken on a journey of discovery through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Because of his meticulous research, William Dalrymple wove together the politics and religious history of the region and brought it up-to-date and made a lot of what we see and hear today make sense. Thoroughly recommend to anyone who likes travel and who wants to discover what really makes this area of the Middle East so profoundly disturbing
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on 9 April 2013
This is a fascinating read. At time shocking in its depiction of the treatment of religious and cultural minorities, and at times beautiful with its vivid imagery and wonderful descriptions of landscape and buildings, it is arcane but accessible.
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on 27 October 2015
As moschos records his world falling apart, dairy pale records the final days of the Christian Era in the near east.
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