John Lyons: Balcony Over Jerusalem


If you only read one book on the Middle East, this should be it, says the blurb.  For those who, like me, are completely befuddled by the recent history of Israel, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Libya and by talk of Hamas, Hezbollah, Shia versus Sunni – yes, this is the book you should read.  John Lyons was The Australian’s Jerusalem correspondent for six years from 2009 to 2015 and was on the ground in Syria just before the war broke out, in Egypt as the demonstrations against Mubarak started and in Libya for Gaddafi’s downfall. He shows us the human scale of these enormous events.

I came away from this book with much greater respect for the foreign correspondents I see every day on my local media. We know they’re often in danger on the ground, but they’re also targets for manipulation by the local players as well as coming under attack from different lobby groups back in their own country. Their strategic and people-wrangling skills are as impressive as their nerve and their political understanding.

Wise, well-informed and well-balanced. Highly recommended for the man in the street.

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