October 5, 2009
I just finished Dreamers of the Day, Mary Doria Russell’s story of a schoolteacher who visits Egypt in 1921. Agnes meets T.E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill, and others trying to define the states and borders of the Middle East after the Great War.
This isn’t a review, but it is a recommendation. Maria Doria Russell‘s prose is, as always, a pleasure to read. My main reservation about Dreamers is that I was enjoying her writing, rather than Agnes’, and the book is written in the first person.
So one perspective on the Middle East is that of Agnes/Maria. It might be more accurately called a collection of perspectives, since Lawrence and others offer Agnes their differing perspectives.
The second perspective is an Imperial History of the Middle East, in the form of a map. The map (which I found via reddit) changes over a minute and a half to reflect five thousand years of empires.
You don’t need to tell me that there are more than two perspectives on the Middle East, but most other comments would be welcome.