The city of Nablus in 1874. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images By Anna Mundow April 12, 2019 6:06 p.m. ET

When a young hero sets out on a journey, the reader settles in for a story of the ample, meandering kind. Hans Castorp trundles upward to the Magic Mountain, Jim Hawkins sails off to Treasure Island, and we happily tag along (pleased to recall, perhaps, that it was at Davos, Thomas Mann’s inspiration for his mountain, that

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