Adam LeBor

If These Pages Could Talk

The Aleppo Codex: In Pursuit of One of the World’s Most Coveted, Sacred, and Mysterious Books


Algonquin Books 311pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

The Syrian city of Aleppo has been much in the news lately, but for all the wrong reasons. Aleppo is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlements, a cradle of civilisation and of the Abrahamic religions. Perched on ancient trade routes, the city is – or was – a dazzling mosaic of caravanserais, souks, mosques, churches and synagogues.

Legend has it that Aleppo takes its name from an occasion when Abraham led a flock of sheep through the area and gave away their milk – halev in Hebrew and haleb in Arabic. Some say that one of King David’s generals laid the foundations of the city’s Great Synagogue. Whether or not that is the case, the synagogue, along with the rest of the city, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is now being pounded into dust and rubble in the bloody war between rebels and the Assad regime.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,
    • 'We read from left to right and from start to finish. Or do we?' Stuart Hannabus considers the merits of reading i… ,
    • Domestic scandal, sexual abuse and serial killers are on the menu in April's crime round-up. revie… ,
    • What did Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, James Boswell and Edmund Burke all have in common? Clare Bucknell reveal… ,
    • 'Behind Berlusconi’s greasepaint and his rictus grin, the performance of Toni Servillo suggests the affectless holl… ,