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This unusual travel book is very much the story of a huge slab of the author's life. While we readers enjoyed our creature comforts, Christine Osborne dipped more and more into several Middle Eastern countries. Not much comfort or safety for her! Indeed, a shortage of clean water and not a lot to eat, for a great deal of the time. Dysfunctional and despotically ruled, the countries she visits - even at some risk to her personal safety - may or may not appeal to you as a traveller but she has done it for you. I'd like to see the enduring monuments from a thousand years ago but accomplishments since then have been rather minimal in these places of grime, crime, hunger and poverty where rich rulers just don't seem to care much about the ordinary, long-suffering folk on the ground. Readers owe a lot to you, Chris, for giving us this vicarious experience. And if your Mum had known what you were going through, she'd have had kanipchens.