Brigid Keenan remarks that 'I am neither an historian or a scholar', so this well-illustrated book based on five years' residence in Damascus during the 1990s is aimed at the general reader. Though a few mosques are glimpsed, the focus is primarily on the city's splendid houses, with their leafy courtyards and highly embellished interiors. Tim Beddow's photographs dwell on details: doors, ceilings, wall paintings. Pictured is the elaborate wooden ceiling of Bait Shirazi (left) and a reception room at Bait Quwatli (right). As with many of the buildings that Keenan includes, the latter's need for restoration is all too apparent.