My Promised Land

My Promised Land

The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel

Book - 2013
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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 Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family's story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is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 peop≤ 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 sce≠ 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
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, [2013]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385521703
Characteristics: xiv, 445 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm


From the critics

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Feb 28, 2016

This was a "fair-minded" but somewhat pointless writing exercise on the author's part. He did not mention much about the hugely unethical 'wall' (as if the building and dividing scale of it was not worth mentioning, let alone coming to terms with as an Israeli citizen), as well as completely ignoring any meaningful discussion regarding the massive U.S. aid Israel receives each year (billions of U.S. dollars and more than any other country the U.S. taxpayer gives to; as if that aid will keep flowing forever, without more and more strings attached). All in all, worth a read, but, I did not learn as much as I thought I would. The author leaves the reader wondering if he really sincerely cares about making peace with Palestinians, which Israelis must learn to do, sooner than later.

Aug 03, 2015

The author, a native Israeli, gives the best summary of the book on page 387: “My Promised Land is not an academic work of history. Rather, it is a personal journey through contemporary and historic Israel…” However, it is in historic sequence and allows the reader to assemble the events that created modern Israel—and has nearly led to its destruction. All together it gives both sides to the creation-destruction drama and offers some hope for the future.
Was Israel established for the race of Hebrews, some of whom practice the ancient religion of Judaism? Is it an apology from the world for the holocaust? Was it simply the robbery by one group from another? Who fired the first shot, giving the other side the right to retaliate? The author, an Israeli, tries to help the reader work through the emotions these questions evoke.
Read this book to gain an understanding of the difficulties, contradiction and feelings that shaped this sliver of desert land.

Feb 09, 2015

This is a good book to understand the Israel and Palestinian conflict. It tells the story of how Israel begin, how it changed through the decades and the diaspera of views on how the country should be runned. It also talks about the narcissistic younger generations that have taken life for granted and have forgotten the sacrifices of their forefathers. Although the context of and the story revolves around Israel, we can always relate the same societal issues that is happening in everyother country.

Nov 24, 2014

If you agree with Haaretz you should like this book. It is not balanced. It is often inaccurate. The author is delusional and anti Israel.

Sep 20, 2014

This should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of the Middle East. Wonderfully written, thought-provoking, and practically guaranteed to get conversations, if not heated discussions, going.

Sep 04, 2014

Enlightening and balanced historical and current perspective.

Aug 19, 2014

I like the way he presents the information from his own observations giving historical account but not in a dry manner. It's a very easy read and brings an interesting view through his observations of the current Middle East conflict. I learned many things I did not know and appreciate his displaying both sides of the issues.

Jane60201 Jul 25, 2014

What a useful back story to current events in the Middle East! I learned a lot about Israel that I had not known.

Jul 16, 2014

Through letters and interviews, Shavit presents the views of all parties involved from 19th century Zionist settlers through present-day residents, both Arab and Jew.

The book describes the many success of the Jewish people, explaining why Jewish Israelis have the highest invention rate per capita than any other group and goes on to explain the current threats to the survival of Israel and worldwide Judiasm.

Jul 09, 2014

A fairly comphrehensive, easy to read overview of Israel using stories of many of the dedicated creators of Israel. A motivational story in which one can only be in awe.How a small group of Europeans (East and West), turned a barren wasteland into a paradise on earth, (while unfortunately, seeing but not seeing a serpent sitting in plain view).
So to, there are ominous and striking similarities with Canada.
Elites come, ignore residents, build, take land, build, make laws, build, trade, war, and suddenly; a country is born.
Meanwhile back at the forest, slum, fishing village, farmhouse. People do not get the benefits new people get; free housing, medical care, employment provisions, supervision to success.
Surprise, enthrallment and pride that seems universal, can be/and is, subverted, by; elitism, nasty attitudes, undemocratic discriminatory behaviors, and so on.
Suddenly, Israel has 7 internal revolutions; Canada too has much the same:
A foreign elite, discriminatory employment, housing restricted to new comers of any and all varities, but not necessarily resident born, and voila, we have Canada.
Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Now, Israel has 50% of its population not contributing taxes. War, Terrorism by a slighted majority, a right wing thinking process, intransigent and not used to power sharing -- and the strongest, most powerful armed force in the area. How can 2.5 million people have the skill set to build an atomic weapon? But, they do.
This is a fascinating read, and one can suddenly understand why Canadians feel for the Palestinians, maybe its because, they are almost, or we are soon to be, them. One can understand why a rigid, closed government, prone to thinking of itself first and ignoring the commons. can be so dedicated to another government of similar character.

Here's another review:.>.
Well, now its on to reading the same book.


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