Saladin's Shaky Successors

To politicians and cartographers, Syria is an invention of the 20th century. To scholars, however, the term also refers to a once vast, occasionally powerful, always proud empire. Greater Syria, as historians call the broad area east of the Mediterranean, has a long and bloody past. That region, which included the territory of contemporary Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, was situated at the approximate point where Europe, Asia and Africa converge. As such, it was a traditional meeting place and killing ground for peoples of both the East and the West.

Over the...

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