It’s probably not a good idea to write a book review without actually finishing the book, but hey, 8 generations of school kids can’t all be wrong, can they? And if reading the book was a requirement, where would the folks at Cliff’s Notes, be? Out of a job, that’s where. But in this case, I’m doing the review before finishing the book because I’m so wound up about it that I can’t wait to recommend it. Don’t worry, I’ll finish it. Wild horses couldn’t stop me.
The book is “My Promised Land” by Avi Sharvit, a journalist for the centrist Israeli newspaper Haaretz. It is his personal history of Israel from 1897 (through his well-placed great-grandparents) through late 2012 and is a truly amazing read. It presents a balanced view of the amazing successes and horrible mistakes that have led Israel to where it is today, but beyond that it contains a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas that relate to much of the rest of the current world political scenery. Here’s just one example:
The outcome was a gaping vacuum at the top, with no worthy leadership, no effective civil service, a weak public sector, and a disintegrating national ethos. The new political game was the blame game: Left blamed Right and Right blamed Left. But as this vicious circle went round and round, no political force took overall responsibility for running the nation in a mature and rational manner. Israel was out of its political mind.
If you have any interest in the situation in the middle East, the conflict between Israel and, well, damn near everyone, and how we got here, I strongly recommend this book. It’s not even dry reading, as Mr. Shavit is a good storyteller. Enjoy.