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Year of the Locust: A Soldier's Diary and the Erasure of Palestine's Ottoman Past [Hardcover]

Salim Tamari
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

2 Sep 2011
"Year of the Locust" captures in page-turning detail the end of the Ottoman world and a pivotal moment in Palestinian history. In the diaries of Ihsan Hasan al-Turjman (1893-1917), the first ordinary recruit to describe World War I from the Arab side, we follow the misadventures of an Ottoman soldier stationed in Jerusalem. There he occupied himself by dreaming about his future and using family connections to avoid being sent to the Suez. His diaries draw a unique picture of daily life in the besieged city, bringing into sharp focus its communitarian alleys and obliterated neighborhoods, the ongoing political debates, and, most vividly, the voices from its streets - soldiers, peddlers, prostitutes, and vagabonds. Salim Tamari's indispensable introduction places the diary in its local, regional, and imperial contexts while deftly revising conventional wisdom on the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (2 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520259556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520259553
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"A must-read for both researchers and the general reading public." This Week In Palestine 20111229 "A major contribution to the field of social and cultural history of twentieth-century Palestine." Arab Studies Journal 20120716 "Impressively thoughtful, layered, and well-documented... A precise and well-done history." -- Farid M. Al-Salim Middle East Journal 20120507 "The value and significance of the volume ... is without question... The writing is compelling and engaging... [An] artful, smooth translation." -- Rochelle Davis, Georgetown University Jrnl Of Palestine Studies 20130325 "An unparalleled window into everyday life in [Jerusalem during the First World War]." -- William Armstrong Hurriyet Daily News 20130901

About the Author

Salim Tamari is Professor of Sociology at Birzeit University, Palestine, the Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies, and the author of Mountain Against the Sea (UC Press).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Congratulations to Salim Tamari 8 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Reading this informative introduction and the diaries gave me enormous pleasure. Certainly it was like looking down a magical telescope that allowed the viewer to "see" a lost world. The book also demonstrates that history is written by the victors of war. I read the Soldiers diary alongside a WW1 timeline. It was also interesting to note that there was an early assumption that The Ottoman Empire would be carved up. Arabs ,Greeks, Armenians suffered the greatest rupture whilst the Ottoman Turks had to start from Turks ("Do not call me Turk, I am Osmanli").
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive Inside View of a Soldier In Ottoman Military 24 Jan 2013
By Elaine Alley Wrone - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This picture of the late Ottoman era, leading into WWI and drawn by an ordinary but perceptive Palestinian soldier, is rare. He is totally aware of the privations and breakdown of civil society as well as the devastating battles and military losses. The Arab conscripts served in all areas, some dispatched to the Russian front where one described having spent time in a prisoner of war camp. The intellectual fervor of Syrians and Palestinians gave birth to Arabism and nationalism.

Year of the Locust is a valuable contribution to our understanding.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting things, hoped for more. 26 Dec 2013
By Geoffrey W. Dennis - Published on
First, it's not really a soldier's diary. It's the social-historical analysis of (very) short selections form one soldier by a scoiologist, mingled with the diaries and life events of two other (unrelated) Ottoman soldiers. It's confusing at times, and for a short book, it feels meandering and lacking incisive direction (this may reflect the translation and different criteria for social science writing).

That being said, parts are quite interesting, and opens windows on the last decade of Ottoman society. We learn about CUP (Young Turks), the educational and military society of the Ottomans, inter-ethnic cooperation and tensions, and a couple of curious interludes (Turkish officers sent to Siberia make ther way back to the ME via Mongolia, China, and central Asia, an epic story for which there are, sadly, few details). Also we get a peek into the embryonic Arab nationalist salons that were forming at the time. Also, we are shown surprising elements that explain later stuff, like that there was really no "Palestinian" nationalism in the first 3 decades of the 20th Century, that Arabs of the Palestinian Mandate looking for self-determination were aiming for either a co-dominion with Egypt or being part of a "Greater Syria," which explains why there was no effort to form the Arab state envisioned in the 1947 partition - it had no advocates on the Arab side.

All in all, useful for deeper understanding the period, but not a "good" read.
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