Giles Milton

Rise and Fall

Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean

By

John Murray 480pp £25 order from our bookshop

Pity the lot of the modern British consul. Globalisation has undermined his raison d’être; budget cuts have robbed him of his perks. Croquet on the consulate lawn would still be jolly japes if only the Foreign Office hadn’t sold off the lawn.

How much rosier was consular life in the eighteenth century, especially for those lucky few posted to one of the great cities of the Levantine world. They lived like Oriental potentates, enjoyed vast salaries and had the power of life and death over their own nationals. Moreover, they often acted as intermediaries for the scheming viziers, eunuchs and sheikhs in whose fiefdoms they resided.

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

    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,
    • 'Macfarlane is a poet with the instincts of a thriller writer, an autodidact in botany, mycology, geology and palae… ,
    • 'Some scholars attribute Shakespeare’s pre-eminence to four centuries of propaganda and not to the fact that Hamlet… ,
    • RT : We would appreciate any retweets ,
    • We've just stumbled on a gem from the LR archive. The emoluments page from May 1995, in which one reviewer asked to… ,
    • Unlike Mary Shelley's monstrous creation, Jeanette Winterson's Frankenstein-inspired novel feels 'barely alive', sa… ,