InThe Tree of the Doves, Christopher Merrill tackles several fundamental and ageless questionsWhere do we come from? Where are we going? What shall we do?”and provides a provocative and highly insightful reflection on the related issues of terror, modernity, tradition, and epochal transformation. He offers the associative perspective of a poet to a set of problems more often approached by journalists and historians. This collection consists of three extended essays that take the reader on Merrill's own journey across the globe, and explore the following in vivid detail: a performance of a banned ritual in the Malaysian province of Kelatan; Saint-John Perse's epic voyage from Beijing to Ulan Bator in 1921, and how it relates to the China of today; a trip across the Levant (Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and the Gulf States) in 2007, in the wake of the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Merrill asserts that it is in this trinity of human actionsceremony, expedition, war: all devised to keep terror at baythat history is formed, and that the technological, political, environmental, and social changes we are witnessing now presage the end of one order and the creation of another.