Top positive review
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The best book we have ever read.
on 10 November 2017
Louis de Berniere has long been a favorite and much-admired author, but I only recently discovered Birds Without Wings and downloaded it as an e book. What a fortunate and revelatory choice that would prove to be. I read it by myself, then my husband and I read it aloud to one another. I felt my mind ignited by its great sweep of research, so meticulously done into the unraveling of the Ottoman Empire, melded with the brilliant warp and weft of life in a small village. Embroidered with the most curious and engaging characters - and a command of the art of writing than can only be called masterful, the book draws the reader deeper, ever deeper into the blood, brutality and tender beauty of a lost age, a lost culture where Muslims and Christians, Armenians and others lived together in harmony.
The territorial and political ambitions of the Great Powers, the rise of nationalism, the necrotising virus of fanatical religious movements insidiously ate away at the entire society. Yet even in the darkest hours and most scarifying passages of this wonderful story, there are threads of kindness, mutual respect, gentle nostalgia and blessedly benign humour shining through. This is a book, in the end, about how we are doomed to repeat mistakes and atrocities again and again, because we are birds without wings. Yet the impulse to fly remains within us, and our spirits, ever unconquerable, continue to rise to higher ideals and hopes of a better, more compassionate world. If you read only one book this year, make it this one. It should be on the curriculum of every higher education institution in the world