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A Month by the Sea: Encounters in Gaza [Hardcover]

Dervla Murphy
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 11.89 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

23 Jan 2013
Over the summer of 2011, Dervla Murphy spent a month in the Gaza Strip. She met liberals and Islamists, Hamas and Fatah supporters, rich and poor. Used to western reporters dashing in and out of the Strip in times of crisis, the people she met were touched by her genuine, unflinching interest and spoke openly to her about life in their open-air prison. What she finds are a people who, far from the story we are so often fed, overwhelmingly long for peace and an end to the violence that has so grossly distorted their lives. The impression we take away from the book is of a people whose real, complex, nuanced voice has rarely been heard before. A MONTH BY THE SEA gives unique insight into the way in which isolation has shaped this society: how it radicalizes young men and plays into the hands of dominating patriarchs, yet also how it hardens determination not to give in and turns family into a towering source of support. Underlying the book is Dervla's determination to try to understand how Arab Palestinians and Israeli Jews might forge a solution and ultimately live in peace. Dervla looks long and hard at the hypocrisies of Western and Israeli attitudes to peace', and at Palestinian attitudes to terrorism. While this shattered people long for a respite from the bombings that have ripped a hole, both literally and psychologically, in their world, it seems that politicians have an agenda that pays little attention to their plight.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Eland Publishing Ltd (23 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906011478
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906011475
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The light she sheds on one of the world's greatest humanitarian crises is as moving as it is invaluable." -- Booklist "Booklist"

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By mkemp
To write a book about the situation in Palestine is to risk either the blank wall of silence, or that heated response that subverts any calm and open-minded consideration of the issue itself. This parallels the physical obstacles that have been placed in the way of the outside world appreciating what is actually taking place there, what has been taking place now for decades, the purposeful dispossession and demoralization of the Palestinian people. It is perhaps not surprising that it was Dervla Murphy, the bold and prolific octogenarian travel writer from Ireland, who should have pushed through the gap in the blockade of Gaza opened up by the revolution in Egypt in June 2011. She provides us with an extraordinarily honest and balanced account of her time in an isolated corner of the world that we have colluded in reducing to a miserable prison, but about which we have had so little reliable information for years. Her narrative is not 'balanced' in the BBC sense of suppressing one's moral sense or political intelligence in a vain attempt not to offend the powerful. The position from which she writes will offend many. But their offence has to be borne, and the convictions that lie behind such offence challenged, if we are to come to terms with what we - Britain and the West, as much as Israel itself - are doing in Palestine. Historical and political analysis - with the personal opinions of the writer always clearly described as such - are never dry or abstract as they explain, provide the essential background to, the unbelievably difficult lives of the individual men and women that Ms Murphy encounters in the course of her stay. We hear voices from across the spectrum of Gazan society - taxi drivers, students, 'internationals', mothers of 'matyrs', fishermen, politicians... Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A Month by the Sea - Dervla Murphy
Shadowing Dervla Murphy around the war torn streets and bullet strewn alley ways of Gaza provides a fascinating insight into the socio-political nuances that play out in this small war torn and overpopulated strip of land.
Dervla provides a deep knowledge and understanding of the long and bitter struggle between Israel and Palestine. Her account also reveals a deep mistrust and disunity between the two governing parties of the Palestinian territories: Hamas in Gaza, and Fatah in the West Bank. This disturbing subtext is yet another reason why this conflict has rumbled on without finding a peaceful solution.

Israel denies that they are the protagonist in this conflict, citing the Palestinians as terrorists who launch rockets and mortars in to Israel deliberately endangering the lives of their civilians. Retaliating to this provocation is one thing but the severity of the reprisals metered out against the Gazan population has resulted in Israel being accused of both war and humanitarian crimes. Dervla states that during the 10 year period 2001-2011, rocket and mortar fire killed 23 people in Israel. However, during only 22 days of Israel's `Cast Lead' assault on Gaza, over 1400 Gazan's died, many of whom were women and children. The disproportional fatalities and injuries being sustained by the Palestinians, aided by the growing number Palestinian solidarity groups and also a greater international awareness of the events that have been occurring in the Holy Land, are all increasing the pressure on Israel to release the Palestinian territories from their vice like grip.

Dervla offers forthright opinions of individuals and the actions taken by both sides.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Donna
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a woman due to visit Gaza soon I was interested in reading about others (preferably female) experience.
What a wonderful writer Dervla Murphy is and how easy this book was to read.
From her previous experiences in the West Bank and Israel, Dervla was able to draw together a complicated situation & people living their precarious lives under occupation with more than a little cynicism towards all sides in what is an honest and open account of life in the Gaza strip.
She dots her experiences with facts & figures to help one understand the whys & hows of today's reality.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone wishing to learn a little more of life in Gaza as it is, rather than how various 'authorities' would have us see it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful and passionate! 4 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wonderfully human insight into the often disregarded and forgotten day to day lives of those suffering the Israeli collective punishment of Gaza.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dervla Murphy takes the reader step by step through her visit to the Gaza, she studies the way people behave in their day to day life. Be that the ordinary person getting through each day as best they can or the adminstration powers that are involved in controlling for what ever reason the people that comes in contact with them or the people that they seek out to make contact with.
She seeks to try and understand the humanity behind what is happening but will not close her eyes to the way the law and order of every day life is streched and compremised by all sides.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected 30 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I visited Gaza dozens of times in 1980 and 1981 when I lived and worked at kibbutz Be'eri in Israel close to the Gaza Strip. Either on my own or with other English and Dutch volunteers we would climb through a hole in the fence and walk to the sea. We were always made very welcome except when we were occasionally stoned by little kids probably thinking we were Israeli. It is saddening to see the mess that is now Gaza and the seemingly intractable problems. This book appealed to me on this basis and I'm glad I've read it. It often makes for uncomfortable reading. The descriptions of the hardship and the behaviour of some members of the IDF in particular. The book contains as much information about the history of Israel/Palestine as anything else, and I know this is important but it forms a huge part of the book. I expected much more of the day to day details of life in Gaza. Sadly the writing is far too emotive in parts and the author is clearly fiercely anti-Zionist and anti-IDF, and there are instances of this which appear to be simply thrown into the book with little relevance to the story other than to reinforce the writer's own beliefs. The resolution of a difficult problem such as this is not made any easier if judgments become fogged with hatred. However, this book is essential reading if you wish to understand what's going on, but try to understand both viewpoints. Israel exists,fact, and will defend itself to the death. It cannot lose a war. If Israel's enemies put down their weapons there would be peace; if Israel did it, there'd be no more Israel. This is the stark reality. I lived among secular Israelis who just wanted a quiet life and were like every one else in the world, and I've also had to run for the air raid shelters many times when the kibbutz was attacked from over the border. Hopefully a lasting peace will one day be found.
Jonathan Nicholas, author of'Kibbutz Virgin'
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Dissappointedly biased
A am a great fan of Dervla Murphy and had eagerly awaited this, her latest book.
However I must say I was disappointed. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Tamara
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed book from a fine writer
Dervla Murphy is a fine writer and many of her books deserve to be accorded classic status. 'A Month by the Sea' is, I would contend, not destined to join their ranks. Read more
Published 10 months ago by mesmerist
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Wonderful wonderful book, writing and a fantastic woman with great sense and wisdom as well as humor. Essential reading for everyone interested in Gaza. Read more
Published 10 months ago by freestar
4.0 out of 5 stars A month by the sea.
Great book to get a grasp of the history etc without too much detail.
Am enjoying the read and look forward to reading further.
Published 13 months ago by maeve o'neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderfully feisty book from Dervla Murphy
Everyone should read this book - full of Dervla Murphy's penetrating (and occasionally agonizing) insights into the reality behind what is happening (and has happened) in Gaza, and... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Piers Letcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaza, the horror and the Israeli involvement in inhumanity that allows...
I have been to gaza, before the blockade and it was a pretty miserable place then. Since the war and since the blockade everything done to the gazans by the Israelies is to leave... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jane McCrum
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