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My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel Hardcover – 16 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Scribe Publications (16 Jan. 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1922247545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1922247544
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 16 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Not since Amos Elon's The Israelis, Amos Oz's In the Land of Israel, and Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem has there been such a powerful and comprehensive book written about the Jewish State and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ari Shavit is one of Israel's leading columnists and writers, and the story he tells describes with great empathy the Palestinian tragedy and the century-long struggle between Jews and Arabs over the Holy Land. While Shavit is being brutally honest regarding the Zionist enterprise, he is also insightful, sensitive, and attentive to the dramatic life-stories of his fascinating heroes and heroines. The result is a unique nonfiction book that has the qualities of fine literature. My Promised Land is the ultimate personal odyssey of a humanist exploring the startling biography of his tormented homeland, which is at the very centre of global interest.'Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel '_My Promised Land_ is a passionate elegy to Israel and a pained, truthful and full acknowledgment of the brutal dispossession of the Palestinians. To be both is its outstanding achievement. It inspired me, depressed me, moved me, infuriated me, appalled me and instructed me. Page after page, it made me think and think again.' Raimond Gaita 'With deeply engaging personal narratives and morally nuanced portraits, Ari Shavit takes us way beneath the headlines to the very heart of Israel's dilemmas in his brilliant new work. His expertise as a reporter comes through in the interviews, while his lyricism brings the writing - and the people - to life. Shavit also challenges Israelis and Diaspora Jewry to be bold in imagining the next chapter for Israel, a challenge that will no doubt be informed by this important book.' Rick Jacobs, president, Union for Reform Judaism 'This is the epic history that Israel deserves - beautifully written, dramatically rendered, full of moral complexity. Ari Shavit has made a storied career of explaining Israel to Israelis; now he shares his mind-blowing, trustworthy insights with the rest of us. It is the best book on the subject to arrive in many years.' Franklin Foer, editor, The New Republic 'A beautiful, mesmerizing, morally serious, and vexing book. I've been waiting most of my adult life for an Israeli to plumb the deepest mysteries of his country's existence and share his discoveries, and Ari Shavit does so brilliantly, writing simultaneously like a poet and a prophet. My Promised Land is a remarkable achievement.' Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent, The Atlantic 'Ari Shavit's _My Promised Land_ is without question one of the most important books about Israel and Zionism that I have ever read. Both movingly inspiring and at times heartbreakingly painful, My Promised Land tells the story of the Jewish state as it has never been told before, capturing both the triumph and the torment of Israel's experience and soul. This is the book that has the capacity to reinvent and reshape the long-overdue conversation about how Israel's complex past ought to shape its still-uncertain future.' Daniel Gordis, author of Saving Israel and Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College, Jerusalem 'With the heart of a storyteller and the mind of a historian, Ari Shavit has written a powerful and compelling book about the making of modern Israel. No country is more emotionally connected to the United States, and no country's fate matters more to many Americans. And yet until Shavit's _My Promised Land_, it has been growing more difficult to sense the character of Israel through all the caricatures. This book is vital reading for Americans who care about the future, not only of the United States but of the world.' --Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

About the Author

Ari Shavit is a leading Israeli columnist and writer. Born in Rehovot, Israel, Shavit served as a paratrooper in the IDF and studied philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the 1980s he wrote for the progressive weekly Koteret Rashit, in the early 1990s he was Chairperson of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and in 1995 he joined Haaretz, where he serves on the editorial board. Shavit is also a leading commentator on Israeli public television. He is married, has a daughter and two sons, and lives in Kfar Shmaryahu.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Like many (non-Jewish) people the situation in Israel is at times distressing but understanding its roots and drivers has been difficult unless you have the time and patience to wade through often verbose and thoroughly unreadable tomes. Ari Shavit tries as hard as he can to make the history of modern day Israel understandable. He pulls no punches when it comes to explaining the why things area as they are - but through the combination of personal history, candid interviews and highlighting the double sided nature of what has happened he finds a way of weaving a story that is (mostly) balanced and educational. For the first time, I understand much better the plight of the palestinians - from the beginning of the Zionist thrust post WW2 that stemmed from a need for a secure place to avoid further (Holocaust type) persecution through to the more recent settlements of the West Bank. I also think that because the book deals with the more recent (2013/14) situation vis a vis Iran, it offers a unique perspective looking forwards as to what might be in the pipeline to come. Rarely have I found a book (last one was Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond) that is impossible to put down.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Francine Palant on 22 Feb. 2014
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A very genuine and thorough look at Israel situation. It has no blind spot whatsoever. Ari Shavit sees the situation from everyone's point of view and does not possess rose tinted glasses. What Ari Shavit does not offer is a solution. In a sense, it flows from his ability to see everyone's point of view and refusal to take side. If every one is right or at least has a strong claim to righteousness then no-one's right. And where is the compromise? I have rarely read a book about Israel that was so clear headed. But where do we go from there?
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By jackrock on 13 Feb. 2014
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This is a sobering and finally profoundly depressing book. For me, at any rate. As a child of refugees from the Nazi terror, who came to Israel believing in "old Zionism", I share Shavit's sense of bewildered disappointment. His constant echo of "where and why did we go wrong" resonates only too clearly. I only wish I could share his final summing up that somehow it will turn out all right. But I'm older than he is so perhaps I'm more cynical. This is a must read for anyone who wants to learn the many facets of a small country which occupies a disproportionate place in the politics of the world. I congratulate him.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Rimmer on 8 Mar. 2014
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In the introduction to his book, Ari Shavat writes of " a personal odyssey.. exploring the wider narrative of his nation. Through family history, personnal history and in depth interviews... What has happened in my homeland for over a century that has brought us to where we are now? What was achieved here and what went wrong here, and where are we heading?"
His chapters focus on incidents with family, personal and historical significance that led from the (mainly) well intentioned,19th century Zionist dreams of a homeland in Palestine to the present unhappy situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. For example: the hopes and energy of the kibbutz movement; the growth of tit-for-tat terrorism; the ethnic cleansing of the 1948 war; and the relentless grind of occupation and repression in the remnant of Palestine that may one day form a homeland for the Palestinians. He writes about the twin problems that need to be faced: 'intimidation', felt by the Jewish Israelis who fear the Arab majority around them; and 'occupation', suffered by a disposessed Palestinian people, but also corrrupting the Israeli occupiers. Honest, with some glimmers of hope.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By andy b on 5 Aug. 2014
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A truly, gripping, fascinating book that explore the triumphs and moral ambiguities of zionism though personal experience reflection and interviews. Shavit writes with an intensity, passion and deep insight that held my attention throughout, and explores the evolution of the Israeli state and state of mind through interviews and reflections upon a choice selection of historical events. However, whilst consistently referencing the injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people, at the level of moral implications he fails to square the circle either personally or collectively. Rather sadly his personal position appears to reflect the myopic view point that he challenges in others, and he offers the reader no real insight into how he reconciles his observations of profound injustice either within himself or for a lasting political solution to Israeli/Palestinian tensions. For me personally this was perhaps the most depressing aspect of the book - that a leading left wing commentator and long time peace activist should continue to hold an ethnocentric position that sees but can't respond to injustice, offering little hope for a resolution to what he himself suggests has been the long overlooked core of the problem - not the occupation of Palestinian territories but the Nakbah itself. Despite all of this the book remains an excellent, highly thought-provoking read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jane on 5 Feb. 2014
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Decided to buy this book after reading a review in The Economist. Couldn't put it down one started it. Gives very objective view of the origins and on going existence for the State of Israel. Well balanced views.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Denis Vukosav on 21 Nov. 2013
Format: Audio Download
'My Promised Land' by Ari Shavit is a personal and touching story about the State of Israel from the pen of author who is prominent Middle East journalist.

Using many documents, diaries and letters, but most importantly many conducted interviews, he made both an informative and captivating story about all those who gave their lives and love, and embed their ideals in building the State of Israel.

Shavit also used his own family's history in order to show the most important events in foundation and preserving of Jew state, starting from the time when state was established up to the present time and (good) hopes for its future.
He started his story with the arrival of thirty passengers from England to Jaffa, one of them being his great-grandfather, Herbert Bentwich. He will follow his life story from the first days in Jaffa to all other areas in which Jew settlers went through a difficult periods and various challenges trying to establish life and live productively in places that were previously undeveloped.

He is speaking about agriculture, about insufficient technology they often had to upgrade themselves, but mostly he speaks about the commitment of those people, about their creativity and will to find new sources of revenue to be able to finance additional development which eventually led to the development of the fruit industry in Jaffa and orange distribution all across the Europe.

The story was done as factually as possible, though these personal views of individuals which participated in history events are the best part of the book.
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