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Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun. Paperback – 14 Apr 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (14 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091927803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091927806
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 209,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"horrifying and hilarious"--Evening Standard

"a terrific, funny read"--ShortList

"blisteringly powerful"--Bruce Dessau

"...a funny, poignant travelogue, underpinned by fine reporting"--Living South Magazine

Book Description

Bestselling author Mark Thomas finds a very British way to try to comprehend the Middle Eastern problem

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By P. G. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 May 2011
Format: Paperback
Mark Thomas is a comedian, an intelligent radical polemicist, British, and a keen rambler. In this book these four elements are brilliantly combined to provide an extremely funny, angry, well articulated, self depreciating, enthusiastic analysis, of the impact of the wall/barrier/fence built by Israel to separate itself from the Palestinians of the West Bank.

At the basic level, the book is a travelogue. Thomas, and his cameraman Phil (the hippy) set out to walk the entire length of the Wall. The initial intention is one of balance, to understand why the Israelis felt it necessary to build the wall and to understand how it has affected the lives of ordinary Palestinians. To achieve this balance the author walks on both sides of the barrier, meeting both Israelis and Palestinians. He is very honest about his own position, having been a long time supporter with the Palestinian cause, he lost sympathy with the suicide bombings of the second intifada, but then regained it with the Israeli white phosphorus bombing of Gaza.

Here, while trying to be equitable, the differences between the economic position of the two communities and their treatment by the Israeli authorities quickly fuel Thomas's anger, as does the fact that the barrier does not stand between Israel and the West Bank, but takes in around 10% of formerly Palestinian land on which settlements have been built. Thus we see Israeli settlers living in luxurious estates while Palestinians queue for hours to cross the border for work, Israelis in swimming pools while Palestinian children walk to school through sewage filled tunnels, or past rock throwing settlers.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. M. Johnson on 15 May 2011
Format: Paperback
The nature of Mark's task, that is, to walk the length of the Israeli separation fence/wall/barrier/whatthef**kismandoingtohisneighbournow?metaphor, gives this book a compelling drive that really keeps the pages turning. Along the way and deftly balanced, there are jaw dropping moments of unfairness, injustice and intolerance, all that you can expect from a Mark Thomas book. However here, Mark has beautifully honed his skill at drawing for us the individuals he meets; with few strokes of detail, he conjures the truth (as he sees it) of the person in front of him, bringing them alive with a perceptive and highly entertaining, light touch. Likewise, the rambler and the poet in him is a welcome 'Yin' to the political 'Yang'; his descriptions of the terrain, the wildlife, the villages and vistas, make the country as tangible as it's people. There is a moment, after a particularly difficult day, when he and his companions find respite in a tea shop. After some top, understated prose, Mark writes, "This is the best tea room in the world" - and suddenly man's beauty and humanity is restored. It's this sensitivity to his environment, along with the engine of the journey itself that engaged me even more than in Mark's previous books. Highly recommended; I learned a lot, laughed a lot and got angry. What more could you want?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dints on 9 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
Excellent book (and excellent show by the author at Lowry Theatre in Manchester). Not only a good read, but tells it how it is, managing to add humour to what is, for the Palestinians, a nightmare situation. We have been four times to Palestine (West Bank) and seen the wall appear and grow and we know all about it. anyone who hasn't been will learn a lot from this book - and enjoy reading it. Essential if you want to know more about the tragedy imposed on Palestinians by a race of people who, from their own experiences should know better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Marczak TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having listen to The Night War Broke Out, I found it funny that Mark Thomas has become the subject of his own mocking ("What you need is a good ramble") and taken to walking as a hobby.

This story continues his transition from guerrilla activist (playful dissent) to informative writer. I like his writing style, and the disorganised attitude his various guides have towards his project hide the precision organisation which must have gone into this venture.

We are introduced to various Palestinian and Israeli guides, leaders and intellectuals, and each has their own perspective on the "barrier", including those who view it as eviction by stealth, protection of interests, and divine right to land.

If you like his previous books, you will find this in the same mould as Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola, minus the corporate hate figure. It's an intelligent, yes slightly bonkers journey that he has taken, so that no one else has to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Melissa12952 on 14 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I've long been a fan of Mark Thomas's brand of comedy and was keen to find out how he would spin such a complex and involved issue as this into an amusing travelogue. The politics and history of the region and the Wall were explained in a logical and efficient way, and the inclusion of the interviews and interactions with people on both sides of the divide helped to flesh this out and add a human element. I learned a great deal about this issue without feeling that I was being preached to, and Thomas does frequently flag up his own views and beliefs but does not force them onto the reader. The reader is very much left to draw their own conclusions without being lectured and the humour really helps to ensure that this is still a travelogue and story of the journey that Thomas and his companions made. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend to others who may have an interest in the Middle East situation or just really enjoy a good travel story. An engaging and amusing read.
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