Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, funny, angry
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...
Published on 2 May 2011 by P. G. Harris

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting endeavour and a political book
What this book succeeds in doing is to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people.

Mark Thomas sets out to walk all the way round the Israel barrier around the West Bank. In doing so he hears stories of the effect it has had on the lives of those whose land is being stolen.

The book illustrates that the fight between a few Palestinian's trying to...
Published 5 months ago by H M Reynolds


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, funny, angry, 2 May 2011
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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.

However Thomas works hard to retain his balance, recognising the horror and consequent fear of suicide bombings (but questioning the effectiveness of the barrier in ending them) and seeing neither community as homogenous, taking the obvious view that ordinary Israelis and ordinary Palestinians just want to get on with normal life, away from the extremists and fundamentalists. One of the most telling voices comes from his Israeli "fixer", a lawyer who gets him out of scrapes and who says "I say all of this occupation and this wall has to end because we are better than this."

As well as being fascinating and slightly disturbing book, there is also a great deal of fun and enjoyment within it. Thomas's enthusiasm for walking and for the landscape through which he is walking is infectious. The main joy however is the parade of different characters with whom he walks or whom he meets on route. Itamar the Monty-Python quoting Israeli ex-soldier and Wael the Palestinian ex-fighter who are members of an organisation called combatants for peace. Arieh King, the scooter riding fundamentalist Zionist Estate Agent. Zayed the amateur taxidermist and zoo curator. Above all however, there is Richard Makepeace, British Consul General in East Jerusalem who is both very much a patrician, but also wonderfully subversive in a terribly British fair play sort of way.

In summary, while it is very much a book written from a particular political position, and thus won't be the taste of all, it is polemical in a very self-aware manner, and fundamentally fascinating, funny and hugely enjoyable.

Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's very good. Indeed., 15 May 2011
By 
D. M. Johnson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extreme Rambling, 9 Sept. 2011
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 8 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun. (Paperback)
An informative, entertaining and worthwhile project - Mark Thomas does a good job. I have friends and family who have lived and worked in Israel and Palestine (on both sides of the Barrier) so I am curious to know more about this region. I am also fascinated about journeys in difficult and challenging places. While this is not really laugh out loud stuff there is plenty of humour in the book alongside the more dark and disturbing aspects of life along the barrier. If you are curious just go ahead and read it - you will definitely learn something about the lives of ordinary people living (or trying to live) within this unbelievably complex conflict that the world often seems to forget.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great holiday read, 3 July 2012
By 
This review is from: Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun. (Paperback)
Took this abroad as a light-hearted holiday read. Really good and enjoyable book that gives a lot of insight into how the wall affects the lives of the people it encircles. Mark Thomas manages to discuss the main issues in an honest and direct way without getting tied up in the rhetoric of this very inflammatory issue! Good fun, but you probably need to have an interest in politics or the mid-east.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will make you laugh - and cry....., 1 Aug. 2014
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun. (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. This is a narrow concrete tunnel with no lights. On one side is lower channel through which the sewage runs from the nearby illegal settlement. So, as Mark Thomas puts it, primary children are required to walk through a tunnel of human sh**.
I could go on……..

Mark Thomas has done a sterling job in highlighting the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank. Well done, Mark.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No longer sitting on the fence ...., 20 Aug. 2011
By 
Love Books "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jowly Anger, 30 Jun. 2011
By 
A. Marczak "mazzarak" (Mordor) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking stuff - I was gripped!, 14 July 2011
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Insight, 10 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun. (Paperback)
An excellent insight into life across and around 'the wall' on the Israel/ Palestinian Border. easy to read but very informative and thought provoking. Thank you Mark Thomas for a very accessible book. We chose it for our book club and were amazed and shocked by it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun.
Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun. by Mark Thomas (Paperback - 22 Mar. 2012)
£6.74
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews