A teenage refugee flees for her life and finds hope in the City on the Heights. Before long, the future of the Middle East rests on her shoulders.

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Chapter One: Mosul

I hated being woken up in the morning. That’s probably why my father seemed to take particular pleasure in doing exactly that. He was an unusual man. While others mourned their predicament and cultivated their anger, he seemed to feed off of his own endless wellspring of joy. He was always smiling, and it wasn’t an act.

He was tremendously happy, even though he had no sons… [read more]


Nancy Dunham

This is a richly-textured, thought-provoking, page-turner of a book. I was up ’til 3:00AM finishing it. The characters are 3-dimensional; I *cared* about them. The settings are ripe for filming. The pace carries the reader forward into a new understanding/experience of the Middle East. I found it absorbing and surprisingly hopeful…Very pleased to have read it. I’ve recommended it to family and friends, as a matter of fact. I’m looking forward to more from the author!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, American Alliance of Jews and Christians

Last night after dinner, bobbing gently in a quiet Vancouver island anchorage, I opened the City on the Heights.  As you suspected I would be, I was indeed hooked and actually devoured it in its entirety before retiring to my cabin for the night.  The political and philosophical questions it raised fascinated me and many vignettes, such as the description of how Mohammed’s mother protected her wounded husband’s dignity haunted me.


It was an absolute pleasure to come across a book so beautifully written that the characters seem to leap off the page and into the world around me. The three main characters, so vastly different in background, personality, priorities, and opinions are all so relatable and understandable. This book will not disappoint! Joseph proposes new and thought provoking ideas that will stay in your mind and heart long after you’ve finished the book. I usually judge the quality of a book by how long it stays with me after I’ve closed it…. And this excellent book is no exception. I find myself thinking about the characters and their ever changing, interwoven lives long after I’ve put the book down. And that, to me, is a mark of an excellent book. Highly recommend!

Veronika Váňová

Thanks for 1. writing the book and 2. for giving me the opportunity to read it!

Susan Quinn

Joseph Cox has written an intriguing book based on his clearly intimate knowledge of the Middle East. His characters are fascinating, especially his main character, Maryam. He suggests a unique approach to the conflict in that part of the world, and perhaps others will see the value in considering them. A great read!

Claire Darling

An easy, entertaining and intellectually stimulating read. Creativity, character development, plot all well conceived, but what blew me away was how the author so vividly and believably portrayed vastly different characters, especially our heroine, Maryam, a 16 year old Muslim young woman fleeing after her parents are killed from a bomb. What a compassionate heart blended with a passionate mind. Thank you for writing this book!


What is remarkable about this book is that it’s written so generous-heartedly that I liked all the protagonists – even the ones I disagreed with, or whose motives I found essentially alien… the story and the story telling won me over. The heart of the plot is the progression of a young woman, Maryam, from the collapse of one society to the creation of a new one. Which of course makes the plot a perfect vehicle to get into issues of what makes societies work, even in extremis, and how. The nerd in me was further entranced that this included not just social but some details of economic theory. (Sort of like a Frank Herbert transposed from Arakis to the recent Middle East.)


I don’t read many thrillers, because I often find no emotional connection to the characters. I see this as a thriller – one peopled by characters simultaneously exceptional and believable – people who are driven by their individual quests for meaning to The City on the Heights.

Sandi Feldhaus


Loretta Johnson

Cox has written a convincing landscape in which a utopia can be made real. This book is also a tribute to women everywhere; his women are real and heroes, no doubt based on the women in his own life. The story is told with three points of view, all true to life. Here is a book that one can read to know more about the Middle East, its terrain, its history, and its people. The City on the Heights is also a good read, full of adventure and precise description. I particularly treasured the section in which two young people, a sister and her disabled little brother make wheat flour from an abandoned wheat field in an abandoned house in an abandoned village. The City on the Heights is a modern City on the Hill, one in which humans live in harmony.

 William Swain

City on the Heights hits on many notes and has a musical harmony throughout supporting the main melody that underpins a complex narrative of the modern middle east. Joseph takes you through thematic issues at the sovereign state level to individual wants, needs and prejudices of really well developed characters.

The goal is exploratory in a fictional way of what a city might be that can live with differences, yet in harmony to survive and become a multicultural society that respects the wants, needs, and beliefs of others.

Fast moving as it draws you in from the first page to the last. The detailed explanations and descriptions add the flourishes of color from a well researched knowledge base such that it is easy to get lost into reading as if a real life expose’ versus a fictional story. Supremely crafted if you are interested in multiculturalism, what motivations drive people and possible avenues of finding peace.

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Want to keep abreast of the latest from the author? Just email cityontheheights@gmail.com

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Other Work by the Author

Grobar & the Mind Control Potion

KGB? CIA? Mossad? None of them compare to… PENGUIN – A secret agency dedicated to stopping world conquerers PENGUIN is facing its greatest challenge yet when one of its agents rescues Short Eddy from murderous school bullies. As the adventure unfolds, Eddy, a seemingly normal kid, discovers a secret world – and his own mysterious place in it.

Torah Shorts

A collection of short stories related to the weekly Torah portion… and my most recent writing.

The Interpreter Speaks

A series of short Torah videos I did last year.