On the last day of December 1921, three enigmatic men - Cairo Martyr, a blue-eyed African who controls the Middle East's supply of aphrodisiac mummy dust; O'Sullivan Beare, a former Irish patriot and gunrunner who has made a fortune selling spurious, phallic-shaped Christian artifacts; and Mark Szondi, a dedicated Zionist who wagers only fried fish futures - sit down to a fateful game of poker in the back room of a Jerusalem antiquities shop owned by a 3000-year-old knight errant. The Great Jerusalem Poker Game as it came to be called, would last twelve years and had as its stake nothing less than control of Jerusalem itself…
©1978 Edward Whittemore, Copyright renewed 2002 by Edward Whittemore Estate, Foreword copyright 2002 by Tom Wallace, Introduction copyright 2002 by Lesley Hazleton, “An Editorial Relationship” copyright 2002 by Judy Karasik (P)2013 Audible Inc.
I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.
The premise of this book is excellent; a Christian, Jew and Muslim play poker for twelve years to determine who gains control over Jerusalem. Where the plot lost me was the digressions into the extended metaphorical references to various historical villains whom have vied for control over the Middle East, but failed miserably. Perhaps it is the writer's former CIA cynicism rearing its head when he falls back on prurient cliche' to make his point that the French are inept theives (and pederasts), the Arabs are ignorant sodomites, and the Jews are clever business hands who take control of the world's riches by guile and ruthlessness. This is all silly type casting for an audience of former spooks and expatriates who drink Johnny Walker Red Label in smokey Third World bars under false identification papers that identify them as trade representatives (when you know that they all work for the "Company").
The author presents long digressions into the mundane minutia regarding the lives of minor characters only to tell us (after 30 minutes) that some tangential relation to the minor character is, in fact, a major player in the plot. Except, after falling asleep during the digression we no longer care about the tangential and irrelevant connections the author attempts to make to the overall story.
This could have been great literature with some decent editing. Alas, the author died at the height of his writing career before anyone took him serious enough to say, "Hey Edward, you need to say more by saying less."
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