Summary and Info
CAIRO TO DAMASCUS by JOHN ROY CARLSON. PREFACE: IT seems to me there are two ways, generally speaking, to pre pare a book, take a trip, or, for that matter, to live a life. One may go at it dilettante fashion, as a tourist nibbling at ex perience, titillating the emotions yet emotionally starved, stimulating oneself with ambition yet forever tortured by frustration. Circumstances and temperament, however, may conspire together so that, with the freedom of a nomad, one can escape the straightjacket of everyday boredom, hurdle fences of space and time, and consume life at its sources. Prop erly directed, such an earthly life may give wing to one's imagination, clarity to one's thinking, strength to one's convic tions, and even bring one nearer to the simple, eternal truths of God and spirit This book, I feel, belongs in the second category the cate gory of the primitive. I left my country quite as uninformed, I am afraid, as are most Americans with respect to other peoples and other shores. But everywhere I went I sought to touch reality always honestly, and always at first hand. Everywhere I clung close to the smells, the flora and fauna of native existence. In that spirit I have written of the Arabs among whom I lived. I found much good and much evil evil acquired through a feudal order that, in rny opinion, remains the Arab's greatest enemy and his greatest barrier to emergence from the dark ages. I am grateful for Arab hospitality and the kindness I was shown, but a reporter, like a physician, must not remain blind to the ills plaguing his subject. With no desire to attribute to myself or my writings any viii Preface exaggerated importance, it is my fervent hope that the many Armenians living in the Arab Middle East will not suffer at the hands of fanatics because an American of Armenian descent happened to write this book. To them I can only say that I have told the story honestly, as I saw it. And to my Arab friends who asked only that I tell the truth/' I can say in all conscience that I have told the truth. Let me assure them that I speak in this book as an American, and purely in an individual capacity, with no ties to or membership in any Armenian-American body save the church into which I was born. Any retribution against the Armenians a minority island in a Moslem sea would be an unwarranted and senseless cruelty. I have written this book with the hope that it will bring both Arabs and Jews into truer focus for the reader; that it will help reveal what they are and what they are not, what may be ex pected of them and what is impossible. I pray that these ancient Semitic peoples will reconcile their differences, that Palestine refugees who, in the main, left their homes because Arab leaders urged them to do so expecting a short war and a quick victory will be resettled. The only alternative to peace is disaster for Arab, Jew, and Christian, for none may hope to prosper alone. Together they may ultimately build a prosperous and democratic Middle East. To remain apart, at dagger's point, means only that Communism and anarchy can be the ultimate victors.