Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land Paperback – November 10, 2015 by David K. Shipler (Broadway Books)

This book is a noble dissection of the Arab-Israeli conflicts, mostly up through 1987 with new annotations of current events. Shipler lets the people of Palestine do the talking here; we are privy to countless conversations of crimes, prejudices, and judgments between the two warring peoples. This is the key to the book's success, as through the myriad of voices we get a true picture of the devastation that a news story or textbook cannot convey with such immediacy. Also of note is the thin ray of light throughout the latter portion of the book, where Shipler shares stories of both groups coming together, seemingly clandestinely, in order to learn more about the other and their feelings about the conflict. Peaceful relations are snuffed out almost as soon as they begin, but the effort is what counts here. The juxtaposition between the good and the bad sets this book apart; unfortunately it could have been more impactful if the book was more well-edited. The one weakness of Arab and Jew is that after awhile it becomes different variations on a theme, with endless stories that resemble others told countless times before it. It is important for each voice to be heard of course, but its length seemed to me to rob the book of a bit of its urgency, and it was in all honesty a bit tough to finish. Still, worthy reading for anyone interested in learning more about the people of Palestine.

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