Top positive review
"Odd people are safe in Palestine"
on 19 February 2013
Why were we in Palestine? To keep the French out. There followed the carpetbaggers - and the shockwaves of WW1 are with us yet. I'm an absolute sucker for books about this surreal tranche of mid-Eastern muddle*, and for a 500-page doorstop this is a rollicking read (AD Gordon 'a kind of local Tolstoy'? Jerusalem 'an international sandbox'?) underpinned by a wondrous web of documentation (thirty references for the ten-page intro alone). Not only has Segev walked the walk, he makes a humane and genial host
The fluent, by and large dependable translation (though you don't increase something 'by tenfold' any more than you enlarge it 'by twice') is the work of the unsung - and all-round good guy - Haim Watzman. Thomas Macaulay appears in the index as Samuel Macaulay, a venial sin
* Israeli-American Ari Sherman wrote a fine account, Mandate Days, from a British perspective, and there's also a book by a wonderful Anglo-Israeli woman writer whose name escapes me for the moment (Isobel somebody?)