HOW ISRAEL LOST

Richard Ben Cramer, Author . Simon & Schuster $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7432-5028-3

If ever a book on Israel and the Palestinians was a good read, it's this introduction to the half-century-long conflict. Cramer, who won a Pulitzer in 1979 for Middle East reporting, divides his book into four parts, dealing with four questions on the model of the four questions asked by children at the Passover seder. He blends up-to-the-minute events of the Palestinian uprising with memories of his time as a Middle East correspondent in the late 1970s and early 1980s for the Philadelphia Inquirer . Cramer is great at telling an anecdote, whether about his visit as a correspondent to an Arab village where he learns about both hospitality and honor, or about a recent visit to an Israeli family that he finds instructive regarding Palestinians' inability to reconcile themselves to a Jewish presence. When it comes to prognosis, Cramer shoots straight from the hip in giving advice to both sides. He's of the "plague on both of their houses" school ("I should have told [the mother of a dead Palestinian militant] the same thing I would have told Sharon: ...you can't make a nation... based on whom you hate, or how many of them you kill"), and he's equally dismissive of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, although he seems to come down harder on the Israelis for failing to recognize the Arab world's need for honor. Many will find this a welcome personal introduction to the conflict, but those looking for a more measured tone would be better served with David Horovitz's Still Life With Bombers (Forecasts, Jan. 26). Agent, Philippa Brophy. (May 12)

Reviewed on: 04/05/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 411 pages - 978-0-7862-6970-9
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-7432-6435-8
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-7432-5029-0
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4711-0942-3
Hardcover - 307 pages - 978-0-7432-6798-4
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