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This novel about the rivalries and crosscurrents of the Middle East focuses on a Jewish double-agent who has become a trusted adviser to Syria's military leaders.
Jerusalem, a Moslem patriot in Damascus, a Christian schoolteacher hiding in the caves of the Judean wilderness. Yet the connection had no reasonable basis. It was bizarre and arbitrary. With their conflicting dreams and journeys, what could three such men possibly share? How could they have anything in common, other than fate perhaps? Other than fate. As if that were not enough. Abruptly, Bell laughed at himself. Poor Tajar had merely wanted to look up a piece of his past. That was the purpose
and olive trees, the stray ruins of a stone house clinging to a slope, a crumbling gate without walls opening onto empty fields, the sparse geometry of an Arab village, a donkey path winding away through the centuries. Now these scenes of a simpler Jerusalem were treasured as tiers of concrete apartment buildings crept out from the city and covered the hills, penetrating even the once lonely wastes of the Judean wilderness, for so long a primeval moonscape of wind and sun and nomads. It all
Tajar’s own particular way of recognizing things, of giving them a shape and a size that made sense to him. Of course memory was also like that, as Tajar liked to point out. It’s as free and erratic as a butterfly … Tajar’s phrase. Once in Geneva two decades ago, in the middle of a discussion on dead drops in Damascus, Tajar had abruptly begun talking about the pyramids of Egypt. Yossi had listened to him in astonishment. What was the connection? What had sent Tajar careening off to Egypt? Had
novels are about—time, friendship, and history, the real history. At one point, but only once, Ted asked me about the events in Dorset, and afterwards, and how I had stopped being in touch. I didn’t have much to say about it. “Bad timing,” I said. He nodded. That summer Ted and Annie went to Italy, and I saw Ted again in the Fall. I had dinner with him and Annie, but before, he and I took a walk. That’s when he told me. He sat me down on a park bench, over by the wading pool where children
one’s elders—these things were well understood in the Syrian community in Buenos Aires. So Halim came to be admired and respected and not just for his success in business. He was a man of great charm and people took to him instinctively because of his modesty and sincerity and goodwill. He was reticent about his accomplishments, even shy, and when people praised his success he always spoke with passion of the wise and kindly cousin who had given him his start and been a second father to him, and