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Damascus Gate Paperback – September 6, 2011

3.0 out of 5 stars 147 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"But while the religious quests of Stone's characters help drive his story, the novel is ultimately concerned less with metaphysics and cosmic order than with the earthly realm of politics and the human craving for certainty. The characters in Damascus Gate may be "God- struck," they may dream insistently of a better world, but like so many Stone characters, they end up captives of history and their own very human illusions." — The New York Times

"Heavy as a marble tablet, it delivers revelations about character and culture in the way that only a dense, textured novel can.... Precise and passionate, Damascus Gate is a stunning achievement." — Philadelphia Inquirer

"Damascus Gate asks enormous questions about cosmic truth—and its effect on those who think they own it—with intensity, intellectual rigor and abiding morality." — San Francisco Chronicle

"The writing, often dense with metaphor and landscape, is powerful, and the result is a pulsing, profound novel...." — Entertainment Weekly

Book Description

Touchstone PB 1999 * Previous ISBN 978-0-684-85911-8
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547599382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547599380
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #989,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on January 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The range of evaluations for this book in the customer reviews is all the way from one star to five. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Robert Stone's Damascus Gate, I have to wonder why the numerous one and two star reviews. The most frequent criticisms are ones that are quite true: the book is long on description, it is very complex, there are a lot of characters and much of the situation in which the plot unfolds must be inferred since the author doesn't spell it out for us.
Nevertheless, the writing is brilliant. This is a book for people who love reading; not for people who simply want a good story with familiar characters and a predictable conclusion. Stone spends a lot of time in this book really setting the stage before the plot is even unwound. To readers who are impatient to 'get on with the story', this approach is going to be frustrating. But to readers who appreciate what Stone does with language and can revel in the images created, this part of the book is a pleasure in itself.
I would not recommend this book to everyone. It does require more effort and concentration than a typical thriller (just as Le Carre does) and the pleasures derived from the character and plot presuppose a reader more in tune with Graham Greene than with Grisham. The author wants us to think long and hard about what we are reading and he has done an admirable job of creating a scenario where all the forces that have made the middle east a consistently unstable place are shown coming together in the crisis situation the plot leads to. I found this book very satisfying.
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By A Customer on December 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
I appreciate novels which have ideas and make me consider the validity of my world-view. Stone is not a favorite of mine, but this is a novel of such profound beauty that I can't find the words to describe it. I hope those who look for meaningful, richly textured novels as a source of personal joy will give this book a chance.
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Format: Paperback
You have to wonder about a book that features no fewer than 47 recommendations spread over 6 pages and the front and back covers. Daphne Merkin (The New Yorker) states that this is "[t]he definitive book about Israel," and other reviewers are no less ecstatic. I found Damascus Gate to be a good book, with significant strengths and weaknesses. It was the quality (and quantity) of the reviews, however, that prompted me to write this comment of my own.
Another recent author who has written about Israel, Herman Wouk, has his narrator in Inside, Outside (Avon, 1987) make the following point: "That is an absolute literary gold mine, alienation." This, I believe, goes a long way towards explaining the reception of DG among its enthusiastic middle- and high-brow critics. DG is really the definitive book, not of Israel but of alienation.
The main protagonist is a detached Catholic/Jewish writer, the product of an illegitimate union, who fervently wants a faith he cannot himself embrace. Lucas, alternately admitting and denying his identity, suffers from physical alienation as well: he is largely impotent (although cured by a good woman, thank you for asking). Stone also invests him with a fashionable drinking habit and a mysterious source of income.
How can any reviewer with intellectual pretensions not fall in love with Lucas? He is a tortured soul enjoying a pleasant bohemian lifestyle in interesting surroundings. This was my college fantasy as well. Stone sets the mood for this wonderfully: the pages are littered with erudite expressions in Latin, Hebrew and Arabic; there are references to Noam Chomsky, Fats Waller, the Zohar, Miles Davis, Sufism and "the Jew-despising [T.S.] Eliot" (p. 136).
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Format: Paperback
A really great book on the nature of faith and a darn good thriller as well. Difficult subject, but this is one heck of a writer. I liked it so much I returned to it for a second reading. One of the most interesting novels you'll read, _if_ you like to think.
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By A Customer on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
I agree with the reader who found his hope for the American novel renewed by this book. Robert Stone is a unique, powerful presence in literature and this is a wonderful book of the human spirt. The search for meaning, set against the backdrop of the Holy Land at millennial's eve, is a Stone triumph. The elements of mystery and thriller simply add to the novel's power. Not an easy read, so I understand some of the reaction to it, but it remains unforgettable and worth the effort.
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By A Customer on August 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having read and enjoyed three of Mr. Stone's other novels, I recommended this to our book club, which meets tonight to discuss it. It will be easier to put the "cross" of this book behind me than the stigma my next recommendation to the group will likely carry. Coupling religious themes to the Jerusalem geography--the concept drew me to the book, given first-hand experience with both. unfortunately the author simply failed to execute his grand conception. As interesting as I found the numerous references to world religions, cults, sects, concepts, etc, I found the characters and the plot to be flat and uninspired. Having gritted my teeth to get up to page 300 expecting a "revelation", instead I found myself reading a stale politico-thriller which largely dismissed all that preceded it in favor of "the plot". Well, anyone who essays to create art runs the risk of failure; there is no shame in this. And I did enjoy his other books for their exploration of individuals' souls (especially "Dog Soldiers"--incidentally, a very fine movie was made of this). That said, I would like to speak with any of the notable authors who provided "blurbs" for the book and ask for an explanation. IMHO, it certainly did not meet any of them.
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