Alumni Books

Lives Between the Lines

Lives Between the Lines tells the story of the author’s Greek, British and Italian family who arrived in Egypt and Palestine in the mid-nineteenth century as migrants armed with talents and skills that were much in demand as Ottoman rulers sought to modernise their lands. They worked for the post office and the railways, but also included charismatic monks and successful entrepreneurs who built things and left their mark on society.

This engaging and very personal narrative history captures a lost era in the Middle East, seen through the lens of a Levantine family. Born as foreigners in a land they loved, they were nonetheless citizens of European states which brought strife and turmoil to the societies they were tethered to. The book captures the essence of this Levantine milieu, people with fluid identities speaking many languages: each serving their own interests rather than a greater whole in a sprawling empire without boundaries. It was a profoundly privileged and unequal social order. Life was rich, secure and commonly described as cosmopolitan.

(Michael Vatikiotis / Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2021)

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