A Crack in the Earth: A Journey up Israel's Rift Valley

Haim Watzman, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (194p) ISBN 978-0-374-13058-9

Israeli author Watzman (Company C ) ambitiously takes on the whole of geological and human history as they developed in the Rift Valley, the defining geographical feature between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian West Bank. Though he occasionally drops too much information too quickly, Watzman is a talented storyteller, deftly engaging readers interested in the Earth's constant evolution, along with those more likely to be interested in the humanity affected by it. With a nice sense of irony and the absurd, the American-born Watzman makes a lively tale out of his travels in the valley, lending a practiced ear to experts and plain folks alike. Yet there are important gaps. Though he clearly wants to do justice to all the rift's stories, frequently referring to his belief that "people see the same landscape differently depending on who they are," Watzman fails almost utterly to bring in non-Jewish voices; the one Arab we meet is an Israeli Bedouin. He is also inconsistent in his references to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, mentioning Palestinian violence frequently, but largely ignoring Israeli military operations and the ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands. Though this is a thoroughly enjoyable read, readers won't get a fully rounded version of the tale Watzman attempts to tell. (June 3)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-7867-5353-6
Paperback - 220 pages - 978-0-7867-5354-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-3738-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-5366-6517-8
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