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Variations on Night and Day Paperback – November 1, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
Set in the 1920's, when the fate of the Arabian Peninsula was uncertain, and the role of the British Foreign & Colonial Office was potentially decisive, this novel pays special attention to the relationship between Khureybit and Hamilton. Hamiton, incidentally, is based on Harry St. John Bridger Philby (or Jack Philby, father of Kim Philby; Wikipedia has an excellent write-up on him). The tension between Hamilton's concerns about the growing corruption in the Mooran ruling house, and his loyalty to Khureybit, are sensitively and carefully portrayed.
Forget the misinformation posted from the "Publisher's Weekly" review. The character "Hamilton" is NOT "a fascinating combination of T. E. Lawrence and what might be a character out of Edward Said's Orientalism." "Hamilton" is Harry St. John (Abdullah) Philby, a former British Foreign Service Officer, adventurer, linguist and explorer who "went native" as the expression might have it. He became Ibn Saud's most trusted foreign adviser (as always in such case, for certain issues, the adjective "foreign" can be dropped).Read more ›
there are no characters or personalities. every person talks, behaves and acts in the same way. it is also poorly composed. the point of view of the reader is not clear. in one sentence, the reader is thrown right in the middle of events, in the next, they look at the events from an outsider's point of view, and two lines below they are looking back at the events from the point of view of a historian, decades after the events took place.
you could read the book back to front, or read only every other page, or remove the middle 100 pages altogether, and you would have the same reading experience. pompously worded, totally redundant parts alternate with themes that are picked up and then suddenly abandoned for good without any further development or even mentioning. it is not even a book, to be honest, it only looks like a book, but it is only a long-winded tenuously protracted stream of ... egoism?
i think this book is just one never-ending ego-trip of the author's. it was a waste of money to buy it, and a pain to finish it. save yourself a disappointment, and spend your money on mars bars instead - you will still be better off than with this book. while it didn't frustrate or annoy me, and therefore deserves more than one star, i found it totally unenjoyable and just simply DEAD BORING
While I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the first two, it was still an enthralling read - if for no other reason than Munif's ability to write and Theroux's ability to translate.
The trilogy provides an in depth story of a way of life that we can hardly fathom. The time span covered is not that long ago, but impossible to recapture except for dry textbooks or (much better) books by someone like Munif. I'm not sure there is another Munif, and if there is I'm don't know how a better job could be done.
Read this for enjoyment. But make sure your mind is fully engaged so you can achieve some understanding of a place and time which is the basis for so much of our current world.