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Lives Between The Lines: A Journey in Search of the Lost Levant

Michael Vatikiotis

4 Reviews

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Islamic countries, Memoirs, Middle Eastern history, Family history, tracing ancestors

An intimate portrait of a critical period of Middle Eastern history (1869-1948), seen through the eyes of a single family

In Lives Between the Lines, Michael Vatikiotis traces the journey of his Greek and Italian forebears from Tuscany, Crete, Hydra and Rhodes, as they made their way to Egypt and the coast of Palestine in search of opportunity. In the process, he reveals a period where the Middle East was a place of ethnic and cultural harmony - where Arabs and Jews rubbed shoulders in bazaars and teashops, intermarried and shared family history.

While lines were eventually drawn and people, including Vatikiotis's family, found themselves caught between clashing faiths, contested identities and violent conflict, this intimate and sweeping memoir is a paean to tolerance, offering a nuanced understanding of the lost Levant.

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Praise for Lives Between The Lines: A Journey in Search of the Lost Levant

  • Vatikiotis is quietly opinionated, a quality which makes him an admirable guide for this evocation of an era - a journey of personal discovery, where, despite complexities, everything stands neatly in historical and topographical context


  • Moving and beautifully written . . . a paean to tolerance between diverse faiths and different communities at a time when much of the Middle East is being consumed by bigotry, fanaticism and sectarian violence - FINANCIAL TIMES

  • Vatikiotis's pen portraits left me wanting more of this amazing cast of characters . . . fascinating - THE TIMES

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Michael Vatikiotis

Michael Vatikiotis is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and gained his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He is a member of the Asia Society's International Council and has a decade of experience working as a private diplomat and conflict mediator for the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Prior to that he worked as a journalist in Asia for thirty years, living in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. He is the author of two previous books on the politics of Southeast Asia and is based in Singapore.

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