This book is concerned with the countries of the Levant and their immediate hinterland. There are two ways of approaching such a subject. It is possible to choose geography as the starting point—nature, the factor which remains unchanged through long epochs as the basis of all happenings, and the picture can then be rounded into plastic form. Or the starting point chosen may be history, the communal life of men with its changes in the course of time, the competitive ambitions and tendencies in political and economic life, the tireless effort of the human spirit, and the story may then lift itself up to the dynamic of drama. In every exposition the two elements interpenetrate one another: space and time, nature and mind. The environment, in its divisions into valleys and mountains, in the composition of the soil and the coast formation, in climate and winds, sets limits to man's political and economic activities, and in all sorts of ways determines his manner of living and his mental make-up. Its influence shows itself, however, most strongly in primitive man; humanity gradually learns to become more and more independent of its environment: in this victorious though never-ending struggle the mind's weapon is technical advance. The character and destiny of a nation are partly determined by the soil, but they also overcome the influence of the soil, wrest the national type from it, and determine its place amid further associations.