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In this compact guide, the erudite and highly readable Francis Russell describes fifty-seven places in Syria, a country that for millennia has been close to the very pulse of what we term civilization. Following an itinerary that allows the independent sightseer to see as many major monuments in their proper contexts as is practical in a limited time, he travels from the walled city of Damascus with its mosques and museums to Krak des Chevaliers, the ne plus ultra of the medieval castle. On the way he visits cities, towns and desert villages, including Palmyra, one of the great classical sites of the Near East; the great monastery of St Simeon, at the heart of the series of 'dead cities' of Byzantine times; Hama and its famous urias, the great wooden wheels used to raise water from the river; and many other wonders besides. Russell's easy and elegant ability to share with the reader his kwledge of Syria's history, geography and culture makes the book, like his earlier one on Italy, 'like a conversation with a well-informed friend. He tells you exactly what you want to kw, in the most succinct terms' (Country Life).
Francis Russell was born in 1949 and educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford. Since 1972, he has worked at Christie's. He has been associated, as a selector or cataloguer, with a number of exibitions, including Treasure Houses of Britain (Washington, The National Gallery of Art, 1985-1986). He contributes for specialised review to 'Apollo' and 'The Burlington Magazine', and has written Portraits of Sir Walter Scott (1987), John, 3rd Earl of Bute, Patron and Collector (2004) and 52 Italian Places: A Pocket Grand Tour (2007).