The Pigeon Wars of Damascus

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-04-05
  • Publisher: Consortium Book Sales & Dist
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A pigeon fancier said to me, '¨‹If you want to understand the Middle East, just look at my birds.'¨" It was approaching evening and on a rooftop in Damascus, several mules from its ancient centre, amid minarets and satellite dishes, the cooing of Waseem'¨"s pigeons, sixty or seventy of them, mingled oddly with the electronically amplified cry of a muezzin in the near distance. Waseem scowled the scowl of one who feigns to despise what he loves. '¨‹They are brutes,'¨" he said, '¨‹just like the Americans are brutes.'¨" So begins Marius Kociejowski'¨"s excellent The Pigeon Wars of Damascus. Five years have passed since the author'¨"s last visit to Syria, the subject of his now-classic The Street Philosopher and the Holy Fool, and he now finds Syria a much darker and more troublesome place. To make matters worse, Abed and Sulayman, the street philosopher and holy fool of his previous travelogue, are estranged, and only manage a sort-lived and shaky truce to please their English friend. Kociejowski is a metaphysical journalist in search of echoes rather than analogies, hints as opposed to verities, and who discovers once again among the outcasts at the periphery of Damascene society '¨ ; for the outcast is, to a degree, made of the very thing that rejects him '¨ ; a way to understand the clashes and challenges and changes refashioning both Syria and the Middle East as a whole. Beautifully written, The Pigeon Wars of Damascus is essential reading for anyone who wishes a deeper and truer understanding of the Middle East and the political and economic pressures currently refashioning it, and reminds us once again of the deeper purpose of travel: to absorb and understand the spirit of a place, and to return changed.

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