cover image Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life

Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life

Sari Nusseibeh, Author, Anthony David, With with Anthony David. Farrar, Straus & Giroux $26 (542p) ISBN 978-0-374-29950-7

Philosophy professor and political leader Nusseibeh, as the Oxford and Harvard-educated descendant of an ancient and influential Jerusalem family, draws on deep roots in his account of a dramatically displaced life. That's one reason why, despite his relative privilege, his autobiography dovetails persuasively with the larger story of Palestinian dispossession and struggle in the 20th century. Nusseibeh, as a former PLO representative, also has the vantage of a political insider. Equally instructive are his differences from his fellow Palestinians, many of whom he encountered as his students in the classrooms and cafes at Birzeit University in the West Bank, and later as president of Al Quds University in Jerusalem. These interactions, among others, give shape to the story of this curious but reticent loner's immersion into national politics, which is overshadowed by the memory of his father (a fiercely independent former Jordanian minister and governor of Jerusalem). In relating the Palestinian perspective on the expulsions, expropriations and deprivations during and after the wars of 1948, 1967 and beyond, Nusseibeh convincingly interweaves personal experience and tectonic historical shifts, while charting his own political evolution and eventual and resolute insistence on a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. (Apr.)