A Bridge Across the Jordan

Michael Cohen, Author, Mendel Cohen, Author, Adaia Shumsky, Translator Arcade Publishing $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-55970-391-8
This is the engrossing memoir of the experiences of a Palestinian Jewish carpenter, Mendel Cohen, working at the Jordanian royal court. His diaries have been translated and edited by the Shumskys, who are both psychologists (Adaia is Cohen's daughter). They have done an excellent job of bringing to life an era of Middle Eastern history. In 1937, Cohen was recruited from Jerusalem by Emir Abdullah, ruler of Jordan, to install a parquet floor in his palace. Abdullah was so impressed by Cohen's work that he retained him as chief carpenter until the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. The two became friendly over many conversations and chess games. A born storyteller, Cohen offers reminiscences of palace life that are dramatic and perceptive. Included are descriptions of encounters with harem women, tales of political intrigue and Bedouin customs, plus a sharply etched portrait of Abdullah. Despite their cultural differences both men, according to Cohen, believed strongly in peace between Arabs and Jews. Abdullah was assassinated in 1951 and King Hussein, his successor, signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/1997
Release date: 08/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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