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August was the first month I had spent entirely in the UK for some time. Work forces me to travel. I am now in San Francisco, about to head to LA before New York again. While there I will see what the fallout is of the Palestinian statehood attempt at the UN. In July I spent a week in the West Bank speaking to Palestinian leaders. To a man (only ever men) they thought the statehood stunt would solve their problems at a stroke. I asked several times, "What if the September surprise does not work?" Then all bets are off, they said. Which of course means war. The region is certainly overdue for the terrorists to start another. A friend tells me that Beirut is looking good again. This is usually the harbinger.
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One of the best things about travelling is being able to pick up books. The other month I successfully haggled with a Moroccan bookseller for a complete set of Hadith. At the close he was as content as me — I carting off my bargain, he under the impression he had met a devout convert. But for quantity and production, American books remain the best. It is only a shame that in America, as in Britain, there seem almost no bookshops left in which to sell them.