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Tribes With Flags: A Dangerous Passage Through the Chaos of the Middle East Paperback – April, 1990

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In March of 1987, Glass, who speaks some Arabic and had covered the Middle East as a TV correspondent, began what he calls a literary and spiritual ramble through the countries of the Levant. His itinerary was a leisurely, spontaneous affair: visiting historical sites, chatting with people from all walks of life, comparing his impressions with those of earlier travelers such as Richard Burton, Benjamin Disraeli, Mark Twain. Curious about the various "tribes" who live in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, Glass found attitudes to be remarkably divergent among people about their tormented world. His nonjudgemental tolerance here extends even to the Hizballah gunmen who brought his journey to an abrupt halt in Beirut and held him hostage (he had planned to continue on to Israel and Jordan). Glass's account of two months' captivity and his escape bring to an exciting conclusion this engrossing, informative, unusual travel book. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As a veteran correspondent (chief of ABC News' Middle East bureau), Glass is no stranger to the complexities of the maelstrom known as the Middle East. Four months after resigning from ABC, he was kidnapped and held hostage in Beirut, until his escape 62 days later. Interestingly, the retelling of Glass's days as hostage fills only a relatively few pages; instead, this is a literate, erudite, and leisurely stroll through the Middle East Glass always wanted to report on but couldn't due to the limitations of the 30-second sound bite. This is much like Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem ( LJ 7/89; one of LJ' s "Best Books of 1989," 1/90, p. 52.) in its blending of personal anecdote with contemporary landscapes, but it has a more historical tone. Highly recommended.
- David P. Snider, Casa Grande P. L., Ariz.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 510 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; Reprint edition (April 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871134578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871134578
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,385,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By on October 28, 1997
Format: Paperback
Wonderful look at an area which is often overlooked for it's beauty and rich culture because of all the constant turmoil of the region. Glass grew up with some of the language and culture. This is obvious as he explores in-depth the areas he travels to and attempts to reproduce the travels of those before him. I thought the book was a good mix of history and culture intertwined into his daily travel and musings. The book is somewhat of a cathartic reminiscence as he relates his humbling time of kidnapping. But as such the recounting helps to bring stark reality back to the nature of that region and force us to consider the reasons 'why' pain and suffering are necessary in such a mythical and adventurous place. I've recommended this book to two friends who are news correspondents and love to travel. Thumbs up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CRF Smith, Guernsey on October 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I recently discovered that my original 1990 Secker & Warburg copy of this engaging and ultimately thrilling piece of VS Naipaulish reportage by the American-born broadcaster and writer Charles Glass is missing from my shelves. So hurrah for Harper Press who have had the sense to reissue it as an eBook.

In the spring of 1987 Glass, who had been based in Beirut as ABC's Middle East correspondent, wanted to get away from hourly deadlines. He persuaded his New York editors to grant him leave of absence so that he could write a book about the people who, either as victims or villains, usually provided the human fodder for his news bulletins.

Starting in the Mediterranean town of Iskenderun in eastern Turkey he intended, using whatever public transport was available, to make a land journey across modern day Syria, Lebanon and Israel until he reached the Jordanian port of Aqaba on the Red Sea. It was a route designed to take him through most of what the old Ottoman Empire regarded as its Arabic speaking Greater Syria. He never made it. Syria itself was solid as a rock. In Aleppo Muslims and Christians of all persuasions lived at peace under the tyrant Hafez el-Assad. Dissidents were murdered. Lebanon was in its twelfth year of civil war and, despite recent Syrian army intervention, still gave anarchy a bad name.

When he reached Beirut Glass was kidnapped and ended up chained to a radiator in one of those fero-concrete jungles in the city's southern suburbs where Shi'ite militias still fly their flags. His capricious captors were alternatively cruel and kind: treats one day, denied water and dehydrating the next.
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By M. P. Murphy on March 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book alternately hard-to-put-down and slow, depending on what part of the story I was in. The characters are real people from all over Middle East, and they are fascinating and often funny and tragic in turns, but the love that Glass has for them and the respect he shows them in describing them and recounting conversations lends credence to the strange events that unfold in the narrative.
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