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Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun. Paperback – 22 Mar 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun.
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  • Mark Thomas Presents the People's Manifesto
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  • Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; Reprint edition (22 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091927811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091927813
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 124,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark has been performing comedy for 30 years
He has written 5 books
Curated and authored 2 art exhibitions
Won 5 awards for performing, 3 for human rights work and 1 he invented for himself
He has taken the police to court 3 times and has won twice. The third is on going
He made 6 series of the Mark Thomas Comedy Product for Channel 4
He made 3 Dispatches for Channel 4
He was commissioned to write 1 new show for the Royal Opera House
He has made 5 series of the Manifesto for Radio 4
He was a Guinness World Record holder for holding 20 protests in 24 hours
He has given evidence to Parliamentary select committees on 2 occasions
He has walked 724km around the length of the Israel Wall in the West Bank
He has been credited with changing the law on tax avoidance bringing in £1,000,000s for HMRC
He has performed in 4 continents and in 10 countries
He has performed 4 shows at the National Theatre
He has cost 1 councillor and one government minister their job
He has tried to get the government in court over the Iraq war once
He cost BNF over £1m in clean up operations after exposing irradiated pigeon shit
He was a columnist for the New Statesman magazine for 4 years though it might be 5
The 100 Acts of Minor Dissent campaigned successfully for trade union recognition for cinema workers, got a multinational to change their practices, brought 4 court cases and annoyed lots of people
How to describe his work? A mix of standup, theatre, journalism and the odd bout of performance art. He is 52 years old and doesn't care if it sounds pretentious
He has shares in 1 dog, owned by family
He was born in South London in 1963

Product Description


"John Pilger with laughs" (Guardian)

"A terrific, funny read" (Shortlist)

"Horrifying and hilarious" (Evening Standard)

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
Some years ago I saw Mark Thomas when he was on tour talking about his experiences while attempting to walk the whole length of the barrier which has been erected between Israel and the West Bank. (I am immediately conscious that that sentence could be challenged as the barrier does not follow any internationally recognized lines of demarcation but instead weaves in and out of the Palestinian territory whenever and wherever it suits the builder.)

It is a serious subject but Mark Thomas is quick to see the funny side of many situations. I found much of the book very funny but at the same time I felt despondent about what I read and very angry about the way in which the Palestinian people are treated.
For instance, he met a man who land had been cut off from his house by the barrier wall. In order to farm his land he had to travel to a crossing gate which is a long way away and only open for certain times daily.”A few years ago my father was working on the other side of the Wall. He was eight-five, and he had permission – he was planting trees and picking olives – and he fell. My brother saw him; he is metres away but on the other side of the Barrier. ……My father, he crawled slowly to the gate and asked the soldiers to open it and they refused. “ This man had to lie injured until the gate was opened at the official time. He had a broken back and broken legs.

Near the village of At Tira there is a four lane highway linking Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Because of terrorist activity some years previously only Israelis are allowed to travel on this road – Palestinians must use badly maintained circuitous routes. But this highway actually separates the village from the school. The Israeli solution was to build a tunnel for the young children to pass through each day.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm sure there are other excellent, accessible books about Israel's separation barrier, but I haven't come across them yet. The book is written in the sometimes mildly irritating form of a travelogue by comedian Mark Thomas. There isn't a huge amount in the way of describing the scenery, but there is plenty of information about how the barrier is affecting the Palestinians trapped on one side of it and having to struggle to find ways to reach their farms/schools/hospitals/places of work on the other.

I thought the book was relatively well balanced in that it makes it very clear from the first chapter why many Israelis wanted to build the wall, and thought it necessary and also helps explain the seething anger on both sides.

There is some hope for future reconciliation, with people on both sides striving to make things better, but the main thing I'll take with me after reading this book is outrage at the injustice of the building of this illegal wall, and the hardships endured by the people it affects. It has spurred me on to find out more and to Do Something to bring about change.
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By A. Marczak VINE 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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