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A forty-year-old schoolteacher from Ohio, Agnes has come into a modest inheritance that allows her to take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt. Arriving at the Semiramis Hotel just as the 1921 Peace Conference convenes, there historic luminaries invent the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. As Agnes observes the tumultuous inner workings of nation-building, she is drawn more and more deeply into geopolitical intrigue and toward a personal awakening.