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From the Holy Mountain

In the spring of 587 AD, two monks set off on an extraordinary journey that would take them in an arc across the entire Byzantine world, from the shores of the Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. On the way John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist stayed in caves, monasteries and remote hermitages, collecting the wisdom of the stylites and the desert fathers before their world shattered under the great eruption of Islam. More than a thousand years later, using Moschos's writings as his guide, William Dalrymple set off to retrace their footsteps. Despite centuries of isolation, a surprising number of the monasteries and churches visited by the two monks still survive today, surrounded by often hostile populations. Dalrymple's pilgrimage took him through a bloody civil war in eastern Turkey, the ruins of Beirut, the vicious tensions of the West Bank and a fundamentalist uprising in southern Egypt. His book is an elegy to the slowly dying civilization of Eastern Christianity and the peoples that have kept its flame alive.
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About the Author

William Dalrymple's first book, `In Xanadu', won the Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award. His second, `City of Djinns', won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. His third, `From the Holy Mountain', was awarded the Scottish Arts Council Autumn Book Award and shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. He has also published a collection of his pieces about India, `The Age of Kali', and three history books: `White Mughals', which won the Wolfson Prize, `The Last Mughal', which won the Duff Cooper Prize, and `Nine Lives', which won the Asia House Literary Award.


From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East (Owl: Holt. 1999. ISBN 978-0-8050-6177-2. pap. $18) tells of author William Dalrymple's trek in the footsteps of two sixth-century Byzantine monks: John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist. In recounting his travels through Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and other former territories of the Byzantine empire, Dalrymple mixes history and adventure writing. His exotic adventures continue in In Xanadu: A Quest (Lonely Planet. 2000. ISBN 978-1-86450-173-5. pap. $14.95), as Dalrymple retraces Marco Polo's journey from Jerusalem to China's ancient city of Xanadu. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

'Compulsively readable' John Julius Norwich, Observer; 'Everything a really good travel book should be: witty, learned and also very funny' Eric Newby

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