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Hyper-Retaliation

Charles Glass: The Levant, 8 March 2012

Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean 
by Philip Mansel.
John Murray, 480 pp., £10.99, September 2011, 978 0 7195 6708 7
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Beirut 
by Samir Kassir, translated by M.B. Debevoise.
California, 656 pp., £19.95, December 2011, 978 0 520 27126 5
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... A man may find Naples or Palermo merely pretty,’ James Elroy Flecker, one-time British vice-consul in Beirut, wrote in October 1914, ‘but the deeper violet, the splendour and desolation of the Levant waters, is something that drives into the soul.’ A month later, Russia, Britain and France declared war on the Ottoman Empire in response to the Turkish fleet’s foolhardy bombardment of Odessa and Sevastopol ...

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