My Promised Land

  • by Ari Shavit
  • Narrated by Paul Boehmer
  • 20 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Natan 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 Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family's story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is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.

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What the Critics Say

“Shavit's provocative book avoids the clichés typical of some works about the Middle East, and the audio version benefits from Paul Boehmer's superb presentation.” (AudioFile)
“One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years . . . [The] book’s real power: On an issue so prone to polemic, Mr. Shavit offers candor.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“The most extraordinary book that I’ve read on [Israel] since Amos Elon’s book called The Israelis, and that was published in the late sixties.” (David Remnick)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Unsettling and challenging critique of Israel

An important book that deserves to be widely read and discussed.

The author, an Israeli journalist, structures his book around a series of key themes and explorations, each focused on individuals and their perspectives, set within the context of the unfolding political economy of Israel. We hear through this chronology about Zionism and the establishment of Israel, the aspirations and values, the challenges, and ultimately the different forms of violence perpetrated by early settlers against the Palestinian communities, the violence of surrounding Arab states against the fledgling state, and the violence of the settlers against a wide range of Palestinian communities.

This is a well structured, interesting but challenging book. It is unsettling and disconcerting. It throws up, time and again, dilemmas and decisions - taken between a so-called rock and a hard place. Decisions were made which allowed Israel to survive and in so doing undermined the rights and search for nationhood by the Palestinians. The rationale for Israel is presented against the backdrop of the Holocaust and the desire by Arab states to wage war, defeat and ultimately end the Jewish presence in the Middle East.

Chapters focus on a single issue explored from multiple perspectives - covering issues ranging from the Israeli Peace Movement and how it has been undermined to the Settlements and their ambitious and cunning establishment of a new locus of power and authority within Israel. We learn about the Israeli Palestinians and their dilemmas and desires, the Israeli nuclear capability, and the nightmares facing Israeli citizens playing a small part, each, in undermining the rights of Palestinian protestors and youth. We hear insights reflecting the views of key stakeholders - those engaged in establishing Israel's burgeoning economy which at different stages has flourished dramatically, the demise of the social contract and emergence of neoliberalism undermining the sense of community and social cohesion, the role of the nightclubs and sex and hedonism which is a tonic for the daily tensions and personal confrontations around the raison d'etre for Israel while its role in the occupation has torn at its values-base.

We learn about the ongoing challenges within the country and within the region, within the people and within its supporters. Shavit provides much food for thought, arguing in the final pages and along the way, that this past and the realities need to be recognised; that hard choices need to be made which represent an acknowledgement of the suffering of the Palestinians and agreed form(s) of compensation; the end to Occupation and Settlements; and the need to rekindle the human and collective values upon which the state was originally proposed; and the importance of a fair, modernised, transformed and reinstitutionalised democracy (my string of terms) in which all can live with their rights and entitlements intact.

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- Anthony

Excellent personal and political history

Who was your favorite character and why?

The book includes interviews and anecdotes from some of the towering figures of Israel, past and present. The description of the explosion of Tel Aviv's clubbing scene, the changing opinions and lifestyles of young people and the consumerist nature of today's Israel all provide a perfect backdrop in understanding its current political situation.


What about Paul Boehmer’s performance did you like?

I personally didn't mind the Hebrew accent, his pronunciation of various names and places was perfect and made the recording feel more authentic.


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- D. Walsh

Book Details

  • Release Date: 19-11-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio