@NedtheRed – what a fascinating story about your time in this perennially volatile region. It sounds like The Damascus Cover is right up your adventurous street!
And huge thanks to the author @HowardK for posting that link to a frankly scary story about your run-in with the KGB.
Middle Eastern stamps are sadly lacking on my own passport. But apart from The Damascus Cover, I’m also reading the remarkable Shatila Stories https://www.peirenepress.com/shop/books/shatila-stories/ at the moment, written by nine refugees who have fled conflicts and ended up in the notorious Shatila Camp in Beirut. Both books are inspiring me to understand more about the area, and to travel there.
JOHN HURT IN DAMASCUS COVER
1982, Falklands War is over and we are heading home on a large grey assault ship. Redirected just north of Ascension Island to head east rather than north and home for Christmas. Situation, yet another crisis in the Middle East, my fourth. We were based, mostly, close to the coast of Cyprus but ready to, and indeed it became necessary to, extract both British and American Marines from the Levant, notably The Lebanon. I was tasked with investigating and reporting upon the very many factions fighting in the Bak’ka Valley. Interesting assignment although perhaps not quite the perfect way to explore the Middle East especially as due to earlier tours of duty in the area my passport had stamps and visa entries for Tel Aviv, Bandar Abbas (Iran) and Cape Town!
I am dead keen to read another adventurer’s exploits in my old stomping ground
Thanks @HowardK for posting that link – what a great insight into how the film of your book The Damascus Cover evolved, and when the great Sir John Hurt climbed on board. Really looking forward to reading the book along with the Silver Travel Book Club readers, and to seeing the movie – released on 3rd August in the UK.
Many years ago, a trip to Israel and Jordan was key in making my husband get his British passport and stop using his South African one (his grandparents were from UK but he was born in SA and then moved to UK where we met.)
We were with a group of church ministers on a bus tour heading for Jordan and when we got to the border crossing all of our group went through without a problem, apart from us.
Where was David born? What was his father’s first name? Did he have permission to return to the UK?
Sorry, our whole group would have to wait until they checked with the British Embassy whether David’s UK paperwork was valid. Oh, and by the way, there was a beautiful air conditioned restaurant newly opened nearby where the rest of the party would be welcome to go for lunch while this was sorted out.
No way, the others said, we will wait on the bus.
And both our passports were stamped, allowing us to return to the bus and continue on our journey…..
How did I get John Hurt to star in the film of my novel
Trailer for the film looks good
I first visited the Holy Land in 1973 and found it a fascinating place. Did all the usual tourist sites and
walked the Via Dolorosa, etc. I was with my first husband then and there was a huge police presence,
all armed, and we were chastised for holding hands, so didn’t make that mistake again!. Driving between
Jerusalem and Bethlehem there were many destroyed vehicles from the Six Day War, all covered with
the national flag.
What really impressed me was how passionate the Israelis were about their country (although that is
currently a bone of contention!). Returning there 3 years ago it seemed to have a different atmosphere,
and the Dead Sea in particular was littered with rubbish, which immediately dispelled the feeling that
you could be back in Biblical times.
This month the Silver Travel Book Club is reading The Damascus Cover by Howard Kaplan. Set in Cyprus, Damascus and Jerusalem, it is a riveting spy thriller played out in the complex Middle East theatre, and written by someone who knows this area and milieu well.
Originally written in 1977, the author has republished the book recently to coincide with the release of a major new film, starring John Hurt in his last role. A trailer for the movie is on the author’s own website.
In a last ditch effort to revive his career, washed out agent Ari Ben-Sion accepts a mission he never would have 30 years ago, to smuggle a group of Jewish children out of the Damascus ghetto. Or so he thinks.
In Damascus, a beautiful American photographer, Kim, seems to b efalling in love with Ari, but she is asking too many questions. His communication equipment disappears. His contact never shows up.
The operation is only hours away and everything seems awry.
Desperate to succeed, Ari might risk everything. Even his life
We’d love to hear about your own travelling experiences in the Middle East, whether a while ago or more recently. Join this Forum thread, or comment on Silver Travel’s Facebook page, and the best two entries from Silver Travellers will win a copy of The Damascus Cover.