Picks and Pans Review: Walking the Bible

updated 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses
By Bruce Feiler

Is the Bible your spiritual guide? How about making it your guidebook as well? In an entertaining trek across the fabled lands of the Old Testament, Feiler and his human guide, a venerable Israeli archaeologist, set out to find such spots as the landing site of Noah's Ark, the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah and the exact place where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on their way out of Egypt. Beginning with the idea that "this is not about me and God," the author is soon drawn into a larger quest: "By [the desert's] sheer demands, it asks a simple question: 'What is in your heart?' Or, put another way, 'In what do you believe?' "

Feiler is helped on his way by a cast of disparate and fascinating characters. There's the mysterious Turk who calls himself Parachute and claims to have found the ark. There's Fawaz Abu Tayeh, King Hussein's former head of royal protocol, whose initial reserve evaporates in his and Feiler's shared love of the desert. And from that barren land Feiler emerges, like those whose paths he traced, renewed and transported. (Morrow, $26)

Bottom Line: An inspirational oasis

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