My Promised Land: The Triumph And Tragedy Of Israel

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My Promised Land: The Triumph And Tragedy Of Israel

by Ari Shavit

Random House Publishing Group | November 19, 2013 | Hardcover

My Promised Land: The Triumph And Tragedy Of Israel is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 2.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE ECONOMIST

Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
 
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.
 
We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.
 
As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.
 
Praise for My Promised Land

“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times
 
“[A] must-read book.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
 
“Important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Spellbinding . . . Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”—The Economist
 
“One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years.”—The Wall Street Journal

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 464 pages, 9.55 × 6.34 × 1.29 in

Published: November 19, 2013

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385521707

ISBN - 13: 9780385521703

Found in: History

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Promised Land I have read numerous books on Israel and visited several times. This book has a unique presentation and presents an "out of the box" creative look at the complexities within this tiny country. It is powerful, well written and most thought provoking. A must read !!!
Date published: 2014-01-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fascinating read I spent two weeks in Israel in March 2013, and the stories in this book helped me understand and appreciate the Israeli people and the land so much more - I wish I would have read this book prior to my trip! It's a special combination of individual and family stories, historical fact, politics, geography and religion. This book has enriched my experiences of the Holy Land, even after the fact.
Date published: 2013-12-23

– More About This Product –

My Promised Land: The Triumph And Tragedy Of Israel

by Ari Shavit

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 464 pages, 9.55 × 6.34 × 1.29 in

Published: November 19, 2013

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385521707

ISBN - 13: 9780385521703

About the Book

Through revealing stories of significant events and of ordinary individuals--pioneers, immigrants, entrepreneurs, scientists, army generals, peaceniks, settlers, and Palestinians--Israeli journalist Shavit illuminates many of the pivotal moments of the Zionist century that led Israel to where it is today.

Read from the Book

ONE At First Sight, 1897 On the night of April 15, 1897, a small, elegant steamer is en route from Egypt’s Port Said to Jaffa. Thirty passengers are on board, twenty-one of them Zionist pilgrims who have come from London via Paris, Marseille, and Alexandria. Leading the pilgrims is the Rt. Honorable Herbert Bentwich, my great-grandfather. Bentwich is an unusual Zionist. At the end of the nineteenth century, most Zionists are Eastern European; Bentwich is a British subject. Most Zionists are poor; he is a gentleman of independent means. Most Zionists are secular, whereas he is a believer. For most Zionists of this time, Zionism is the only choice, but my great-grandfather chooses Zionism of his own free will. In the early 1890s, Herbert Bentwich makes up his mind that the Jews must settle again in their ancient homeland, Judea. This pilgrimage is unusual, too. It is the first such journey of upper-middle-class British Jews to the Land of Israel. This is why the founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, attributes such importance to these twenty-one travelers. He expects Bentwich and his colleagues to write a comprehensive report about the Land. Herzl is especially interested in the inhabitants of Palestine and the prospects for colonizing it. He expects the report to be presented at the end of the summer to the first Zionist Congress that is to be held in Basel. But my great-grandfather is somewhat less ambitious. His Zionism, which preceded Herzl’s, is essentia
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From the Publisher

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE ECONOMIST

Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
 
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.
 
We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.
 
As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.
 
Praise for My Promised Land

“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times
 
“[A] must-read book.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
 
“Important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Spellbinding . . . Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”—The Economist
 
“One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years.”—The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Ari Shavit is a leading Israeli journalist, a columnist for Haaretz, and a commentator on Israeli public television.

Editorial Reviews

“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.” —Simon Schama, Financial Times   “[A] must-read book . . . Shavit celebrates the Zionist man-made miracle—from its start-ups to its gay bars—while remaining affectionate, critical, realistic and morally anchored. . . . His book is a real contribution to changing the conversation about Israel and building a healthier relationship with it. Before their next ninety-minute phone call, both Barack and Bibi should read it.” —Thomas L. Friedman,  The New York Times   “[An] important and powerful book . . . [Shavit] has an undoctrinaire mind. He comes not to praise or to blame, though along the way he does both, with erudition and with eloquence; he comes instead to observe and to reflect. This is the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read. It is a Zionist book unblinkered by Zionism. It is about the entirety of the Israeli experience. Shavit is immersed in all of the history of his country.  While some of it offends him, none of it is alien to him. . . . The author of  My Promised Land  is a dreamer with an addiction to reality. He holds out for affirmation without illusion. Shavit’s book is an extended test of his own capacity to maint
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Bookclub Guide

1. To tell the history of his country, Shavit begins with the story of his British great-grandfather’s trip to Palestine on a Thomas Cook caravan in 1897 and continues in his role as our guide throughout the book.  He also introduces significant historical events through a personal lens, telling the story of one orange grove owner, for example, to represent the economic boom of the late 1930s in Palestine and of an individual entrepreneur to represent the tech boom of the past decade.  Do you feel that this approach to writing about the history of Israel is effective?     

2. Was there anything in the book that challenged your assumptions about Israel’s history?  What surprised you?

3. Chapter Four, “Masada,” is the story of one man’s successful campaign to change the perception of history by shaping a national narrative.  To what degree is history shaped by individuals?  Can you think of other examples, within the book or in world history in general, in which an individual has reshaped a country’s identity and narrative?

4. Chapter Five, “Lydda,” presents the book’s central moral conflict through the lens of one battle. At the end of the chapter, Shavit writes, “I condemn Bulldozer.  I reject the sniper.  But I will not damn the brigade commander and the military governor and the training group boys.  On the contrary.  If need be, I’ll stand by the damned.  Because I know that if it wasn’t for them, the State of Israel would not have been born.”  Discuss Shavit’s moral response to what happened in Lydda.  Does every country have a Lydda in the history of its statehood?  If so, think of some examples.

5. Chapter Six, “Housing Estate,” describes the enormous sacrifices made by the new refugees for their future state, often unwillingly.  Do you agree with Ben Gurion’s view that memories of the Holocaust and the past needed to be subverted to create the new state?  Discuss the tension between the individual and the state in the creation of Israel.  You might also discuss the astonishing success rate among the immigrant children of the Housing Estate, many of whom became the leaders of the young country.  What factors do you think contributed to their success?

6. Chapter Seven discusses the stealth creation of Israel’s nuclear reactor.  Discuss its implications for current discussions of nuclear proliferation.  Shavit presses the engineer to discuss the moral significance of his life’s work, but the engineer refuses to take part in the discussion.  Do you think Shavit is right to push the engineer as he does, or is the engineer right in saying, “If everyone spent as much time thinking as you do, they would never act”?

7. In Chapter Eight, on the settlements, Shavit writes, “The question is whether Ofra is a benign continuation of Zionism or a malignant mutation of Zionism,” and answers that it is both.  Discuss the two ways of viewing the settlements.  Do you agree with Shavit’s assessment?

8. In Chapter Ten, “Peace,” for Shavit, Hulda represents the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict.  And he says that Hulda has no solution, “Hulda is our fate.”  What does he mean by this?

9. In Chapter Seventeen, “By the Sea,” Shavit describes the concentric circles of threat that challenge Israel.  The sixth threat he describes, on pp. 403-404, is a moral threat: “A nation bogged down in endless warfare can be easily corrupted.  It might turn fascist or militaristic or just brutal.”  How significant and urgent is this moral threat compared to the other threats Israel faces?  Do you believe Israel has a greater moral responsibility than other countries? Is a moral Israel necessary for its survival, and is this true for countries in general?      

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