My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
New York Times best seller
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 Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family's story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is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)
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|Listening Length||20 hours and 45 minutes|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||19 November 2013|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 14,029 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
4 in Israel & Palestine History
12 in History of Israel & Palestine
143 in World History (Audible Books & Originals)
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Top reviews from Australia
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The book is engagingly written as the reader would expect from a journalist. Enjoyable, enlightening and uncomfortable but very worthwhile.
Top reviews from other countries
Whatever you think of how the nation was born, and how it has handled itself since, it's a fascinating, mostly dark story.
I hope the future - for Israel and its neighbours - is brighter, and there are some things here to give you hope, along with more things to make you worry.
How could a people who suffered so much then inflict suffering on others, and kick them off their land? Why in 70 years haven't all sides been able to sit down and talk, and why when it was attempted did one side or other refuse to listen?
What has the outside world done to help, and why has it helped one side at times, and the other side at times? There are a million questions, that a lot of very intelligent people over the years have been unable to answer.
Interesting, how secularism could alter everything, and how the Arab Spring has kept people otherwise engaged, or things could have reached a head already. Interesting, some critics' take on this book, how it is an exercise in liberal hand-wringing, concealing another agenda, an apologist's agenda. And interesting how passionately he can write on behalf of his non-Jewish friends, and see it from their perspective and agree, over and over, that the way Israel took land was wrong and still needs to be addressed.
It's a subject that splits us, and confuses outsiders from every side, but I think this book has great value for those of us too far away to properly grasp every single detail. I went to Tel Aviv once, found it fascinating but with an unmistakeable paranoia and a bit intimidating, too. I have seen parallels much closer to my home, with a lot of what happened in Northern Ireland and all of Ireland.
At least this book made me think about it all, and view it from new perspectives, and witness an Israeli who admits openly there have been plenty mistakes on both sides.
Clearly, a country that will be in the news for years to come. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all get along, settle historical differences and find a liveable solution for everyone? Sadly, it's unlikely. Meantime, Israel does have to protect itself, and Palestine does have to keep asking when they will get their land back. I wouldn't want to be the politician who is left to sort it all out.
Thank you, sir, a very interesting book.
Reading this beautifully written ruthlessly honest book has opened my mind to the complex multi-faceted society Israel has become.
Ari's book has me exultant about the triumphs, weeping about the tragedies and horrified by the actions some Israelis have and are taking to defend themselves.
My heart aches for all the Jews and Arabs caught up in this painful painful situation.
As I read the first half of the book I wished the story telling and clear balance was augmented with Palestinian voices. And then in the second half, there they were. Perhaps all the more powerful for having held off these testimonies until then.
In a few places the style was arrogant. More often it was repetitive in the reflective passages. And, especially towards the end, it was too eulogistic about Israel and Israelis. I'm not referring to the right or wrong of the merits of Israel or Israelis, but to the eulogising itself. It serves only to undermine the otherwise balanced narrative by hinting at bias.
I felt the last third of the book lost the focus of what had come before and, as more reflective sections came in made me think, as I was reading, that one of his interviewees might have been right in accusing Shavit of 'thinking too much'. That said, once I finished and reflected on what I'd learnt, I admit I found it helpful to follow Shavit's introspective thoughts.
However, these are relatively petty asides, the book was unputdownable. It's just a shame that (in my humble opinion) these petty asides give the critics of this liberal left opinion their entry points for attack.