Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean

Charles Glass writes:

Philip Mansel documents the rise and inexorable crash of the great Levantine entrepôts as four centuries of relative stability under the Ottomans gave way to a century of ethnic expulsion, tyranny and war. ‘The Levant is an area, a dialogue and a quest,’ Mansel writes, trying to explain the seductive hold these tawdry, vibrant and bewildering places have on the memories of those who fled them and on those who wish they had been born early enough to have known them. ‘Levant’ is a Western term: only from a western perspective does the rising sun appear over the eastern Mediterranean shore.

(LRB 8 March 2012)

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