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Mud-Brick Construction

Miriam lives in a limestone townhouse, but in The Deadliest Lie, along her walk through the Jewish quarter and then through the other neighborhoods, she describes the homes she passes:

Wending my way toward the local plaza, I pass the stable yards and villas of the most affluent Jews, their columned entrances adorned with carved architraves imported from Libya and Asia, their citron-scented gardens filled with whimsical statuary cavorting under arcs of jetting water. Their manicured lawns behind walls of box and rosemary and their crushed-shell walkways give way to plaster painted to resemble stone and eventually to shoddy, sun-scoured, mud-brick tenements scarred with graffiti and jammed together with hardly a slice of sky between them.

To make the bricks, alluvial sediment from the Nile is dumped in a circular area created for the job, broken up with adzes or hoes, and mixed with water to form a stiff mixture. Chopped straw is then added to the earth mixture in a ratio of roughly one part straw to five parts earth. The straw is kneaded into the earth mixture with hands or by treading, and the whole concoction is left to age and ferment for a night or two. The following day, the earth-straw mixture is re-kneaded, and more water is added, at which point the mixture is ready to mold. The longer the bricks are left to dry in the sun the better, but the average time is about eight or nine days.

That may also be the average number of days to read The Deadliest Lie. I only know that it took me about two years to write the book and that includes doing the research. To see whether you’d like to read it, watch the book trailer, read the reviews, or listen to an excerpt, click here.


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