City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa

Adam LeBor, Author . Norton $14.95 (423p) ISBN 978-0-393-32984-1

As any student of the Middle East can attest, there's almost no way to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with objectivity; virtually every word about it comes weighted with ideology or political mission. But English journalist LeBor (the Times ) has achieved the near-impossible. While ostensibly telling the story of one town, he sketches the tale of Israel's birth and concomitant Palestinian nakba (catastrophe), with the knotted lives of Jaffa's Arab and Jewish residents serving as a humanizing lens. Though not a rigorous academic study, this history encompasses both the familiar (nonstop wars) and the lesser-known (Syria's 1949 peace overtures). Dotted with delightful period details, it gives individual opinion free rein, reporting contradictions without judgment. The history of both peoples is marked by trauma and courage, and neither side has really managed to listen to the other—because, LeBor notes, "any recognition of each other's losses is a kind of surrender in the endless battle for memory as well as territory." He quietly condemns the worst excesses of both sides—Israeli occupation, Palestinian corruption, Israeli racism, Palestinian suicide terrorism—and comes down on the side of compromise. Some readers will noisily object, but those looking for a well-rounded and truly human insight into the conflict will enjoy this account. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/12/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 357 pages - 978-0-7475-8602-9
Hardcover - 357 pages - 978-0-7475-7366-1
Open Ebook - 978-0-393-34301-4
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4088-2769-7
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