From The Holy Mountain

A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East

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William Dalrymple: From The Holy Mountain (Paperback, 2004, Penguin Group)


Published July 16, 2004 by Penguin Group.

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3 stars (1 review)

In the spring of A.D. 587, John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist embarked on a remarkable expedition across the entire Byzantine world, traveling from the shores of Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. Using Moschos’s writings as his guide and inspiration, the acclaimed travel writer William Dalrymple retraces the footsteps of these two monks, providing along the way a moving elegy to the slowly dying civilization of Eastern Christianity and to the people who are struggling to keep its flame alive. The result is Dalrymple’s unsurpassed masterpiece: a beautifully written travelogue, at once rich and scholarly, moving and courageous, overflowing with vivid characters and hugely topical insights into the history, spirituality and the fractured politics of the Middle East.

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Review of 'From The Holy Mountain' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This a book I read a couple of years ago but many of its stories and elements have stuck with me. I have always been fascinated by transition points, especially in religions. The book is one of Dalrymple's early travel works and, funnily enough, it has nothing to do with India. However, you do see some of his later interests (i.e., Sufism) in the book. Overall, I liked elements of "From the Holy Mountain" but felt like the book did not cohere as well as it could have. The premise of the book is that the author decided to travel from Mount Athos in Greece to Southern Egypt along the path of a seventh century Byzantine monk. The monk traveled the Near East just before the rise of Islam. Dalrymple uses this journey to reflect on religious diversity and the ghost of the Christian and Byzantine world still present. It …