Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: O Jerusalem!

For years now, my brother has been suggesting I read O Jerusalem!, and for years I've been putting it off. At 656 pages, it just looks like it's going to be a painful read.

And then my brother picked up the audio version of the book. Still, I resisted.

Then a few weeks ago, I finally broke down and loaded the first 6 of 22 disks into my CD disk changer and hoped for the best. I figured I was going to be in for a long dry read that I'd just suffer through.

Oh, how wrong I was. I found all 22 disks, from the opening introduction to the epilogue to be absolutely riveting.

The story follows the fate of Jerusalem, from the UN vote to partition the country of Israel through the war that followed. It's absolutely packed with unbelievable story, after unbelievable story. If this were a novel, you would write it off as being too out there to be true. And yet, it's all real.

Unlike, say, A Case for Isreal, by Alan Dershowitz, the book doesn't take a purely positive view of Isreal. Both Arabs and the Jews have events in the book that evoke both condemnation and praise. Without any points of reference, it's hard for me to say the book is balanced - but that's how it felt to me.

Equal to the entertaining stories was the amazing historical lessons it had to teach me. The lessons and conflict from 1948, in many respects, are still present in the current Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Heck, while I was reading the book, my brother pointed me to this current op-ed, which directly discusses events that happened in 48. And after reading the book, I can see both the truth of what the author is saying, as well as the points that he's conveniently leaving out.

My brother was right to keep on me about reading this book. And now, I'll go around, nudging people to do the same. You won't be sorry.

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