For four months and five hundred miles Colin Thubron walked the mountains of Lebanon, following tracks and rivers.
His journey was not only a survey of a remarkable country, but a quest for the gods and divinities who held the secrets of death and rebirth in the land's ancient cults.
He visited almost every place of cultural importance, and lived with the people along his way, recording a country of outstanding natural scenery, rich with a unique medley of races and religions.
The Hills of Adonis is both a travel book and a personal journal; for the quest is the search for meaning, a reflection on faith and reason and a poem on the joy and complexity of living.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 208 pages, maps
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 04/12/2008
- Category: Travel writing
- ISBN: 9780099532286
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Review by edwinbcn
The hills of Adonis. A journey in Lebanon by Colin Thubron is a rather bookish travelogue of his trek through the hills of Lebanon. While the book contains sufficient references to observations made on the way, the book mainly reads as a history book, a great deal of historical background information probably penned over from the books in the extensive three-page bibliography at the back of the book.Presumably, a young author, new to the craft of travel writing, without a commission, would go to a country or region of his intrinsic interest. Thubron's first books are all set in the Middle East, Mirror to Damascus (1967), The hills of Adonis (1968), Jeruzalem (1969) and Journey into Cyprus in 1974. For all these destinations, Thubron visited on the brink of war, awhile they were still quite pristine.Throughout the book, Thubron appears a rather aristocratic traveller of independent means, roaming the countryside on foot free of fear and shunning luxury.Most readers know very little else about Lebanon than that it is a country thoroughly devastated by war. Its close proximity to Europe, both geographically and historically are overshadowed by its muslim character. Like Turkey and other countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon has a rich culture viewing both to the West, with pockets of Christian villages and to the East, as a mainly muslim country. The first book to open my mind to this aspect of Lebanon was The dream palace of the Arabs. A generation's odyssey by Fouad Ajami. The hills of Adonis. A journey in Lebanon is an excellent introduction to the ancient, Phoenician part of the history of the country.We have all read and heard about the Phoenicians in our history classes, but oddly I have never been able to connect the Phoenicians to any country. In The hills of Adonis Thubron visits and describes the background of the earliest cities in Lebanon founded, occupied and abandoned by the Phoenicians. While bookish, this is a very interesting part of the book.Throughout the book, Thubron weaves the myth of the resurrection of Adonis, a myth with connects Pagan, Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Christian culture through the ages. There are beautiful landscape descriptions of cypress and lemon groves, almond blossom and other to dream away into.Overall, the book reads like an intellectual and sensual journey through history and the region of and around Lebanon. There are some, but few encounters with local people. Many travel books focus on the landscape and particulars of local population. The hills of Adonis has very little of that, and its tone is somewhat more erudite and intellectual. A very interesting read indeed.