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4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  318 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Raquela Prywes lived on the front lines of Israel's history. A ninth-generation Jerusalemite, she found her true calling as a hospital and battlefield nurse, delivering babies in the infamous Athlit detention camp, where Holocaust survivors were interned by the British, and literally walking across minefields to tend to the wounded during the 1948 War of Independence.

Paperback, 456 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Three Rivers Press (first published 1978)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jan Rice
Raquela is the biography of a woman born in Jerusalem close to the year of my mother's birth. My mother was born in Tennessee but comparing the dates is a way to make book time real. The author chose her as a subject because she was attractive and intelligent, a high achiever who became a nurse and midwife, had romances and friendships galore and showed bravery and fortitude not to mention heroism during her war-related adventures. But I think the author primarily chose her as a vehicle for the ...more
May 22, 2014 Ariella rated it liked it
Three stars, but overall a big disappointment. This book has a great premise- an interesting woman living at an incredible time in Israel's history. Unbelievably,though this story fails because the author does not manage to delve into her characters. They remain shallow, the conversations between them are cardboard-y and awkward and I was really disappointed.

The author herself is an accomplished journalist and she does manage to make the historical facts that she writes about exciting. (And the
Aug 07, 2016 thewanderingjew rated it really liked it
Beginning in1929, when Raquela Levy is five years old and the Arabs are rioting in the Old City, and continuing through the next five decades, the book takes the reader through the joys and tragedies of Raquela’s life. It follows her efforts to help her fellow Jews in their continuous struggle to establish their own safe haven, their own homeland, Israel, from which they would never be expelled by any enemy, near or far, again. Raquela is a sabra and a largely unsung heroine in Israel’s story. S ...more
Etta Mcquade
Aug 24, 2015 Etta Mcquade rated it it was amazing
Raquela Prywes was indeed a remarkable woman and one who defines what it means to be a woman of Israel. She was a nurse and a midwife who delivered most of the babies born to Holocaust survivors, the ones who were pulled off 'illegal ships' and imprisoned in the British camps in Athlit and Cyprus. She also nursed wounded soldiers. And, on top of all this, she was extremely beautiful. This was a book I could hardly put down. I am glad to learn about this marvelous woman.
Mar 19, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing

Here is my review on my book blog at http://bagelsbooksandschmooze.blogspo.... If you want to learn about pioneer nurses, and Palestine before it became Israel, and after, and want to learn about the history. You may want to pick up this book.

The writing is from a journalist view point. It is not sugary coated, simple and to the point. It is written by one of my favorite author's Ruth Gruber. She is a well known foreign correspondent. She took picture of Exodus, if you remember Paul Newman. She
Aug 17, 2012 Casey rated it it was amazing
If it's possible to "inhale" a book then that's what happened here. I had to tear myself away from reading the story of this lady and her country. I didn't know that the British government locked up Israeli immigrants in what prison war camps until the end of 1948. I wasn't aware of the story of the Exodus 1947, Pan Crescent, or Pan York. Stories of substance involving brave men, women, and children living and dying for Israel. I was shocked. This is an extraordinary book and I wish I had been i ...more
Feb 18, 2015 Nancy rated it liked it

Far more historical fiction than biography.

Enlightening and distressing from the historical viewpoint, even horrifying in regards to the detention camps of Athlit and Cypress.

Flat and even irritating in the narrative parts.

I really liked the actual historical parts. I learned things I had never heard. All the while, I was reminding myself that this wasn't an unbiased view of history. (Is there even such a thing?) So I got online and some research. The historical events are written clearly and we
Diane Lybbert
Feb 03, 2016 Diane Lybbert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Gruber wanted to tell the story of the nation of Israel. To do so she wanted to find a true 'woman of Israel'. She found Raquela, who was a 9th generation Israeli. Beginning in the 1940s Raquela's story is told - nursing school to become a midwife, dealing with news of Hitler's atrocities against the Jews. Further tragedy when the Jews were rescued from the camps, and then had no 'homeland' to return to. Thousands of them ended up in refugee camps which were not much better than where they ...more
Yael Weinstock mashbaum
Jun 24, 2013 Yael Weinstock mashbaum rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This was an incredible story, inspiring, and a wonderful way to learn about history.
Apr 24, 2015 Gary rated it it was amazing
A riveting absorbing book written like a novel, about a formidable ye sensitive determined and dedicated woman whose story opens a window into the history of Israel from the 1929 Jerusalem and Hebron pogroms carried out against the Jews by Arab gangs until 1976.

Raquela is only five when she hides with her family in the house during the Arab pogroms.
During World War II she decides to become a nurse, and volunteers in 1947 for the Athlit and Cyprus internment camps. Shocking is the involvement of
Sep 13, 2012 Karyl rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the birth of Israel through the eyes of a woman whose family goes back nine generations as residents of Jerusalem. It begins in 1929, when Palestine was still very much a backwater, and continues throughout its struggle for independence as the state of Israel. What I found most interesting is I'd always assumed that Israel had been allowed to form by most of the Western members of the UN; I had no idea that Britain was so very much opposed to it. It was shocking for me to f ...more
Jun 17, 2007 K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish, israel
Not a book I would normally pick up, but Saadia bought this for me so I felt like I should at least give it a try. I'm surprisingly into it at this point, despite some strong flaws. Basically, this is a fictionalized historical biography (if that's a genre) of a woman who was born in Israel in the mid-'20s and served as a nurse and midwife during the Independence War and Israel's emergence as a country. The writing is a little weak -- Gruber tried to have this read like a novel, complete with di ...more
Dec 16, 2012 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave up on this book. At first, I felt this book was disjointed and poorly written. I didn't think it was worth the effort. But I stuck with it because just as I started reading it, the turmoil in this region (Israel) was increasing. I thought I might understand today's bombings and unrest if I knew the history.
The story actually became cohesive and engaging as the writing itself (somehow) improved. By the end of the book I had a much better sense and appreciation of the history behind
Diane Wachter
Mar 01, 2016 Diane Wachter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Gruber, RDC-M, #5, 1978, @ 1978, 1985. A true story of a couragous Jewish battlefield nurse, who worked in a British detention camp where Holocaust survivors were nursed back to health. Then she went on to Isreal, where she nursed soldiers during the Six-Day War. A passionate love story, set in the era of WWII, the formation of Jewish settlements in Israel, and the triumph and tragedies of Jewish Independence. Very good.
Carol Van Der Woude
Jun 09, 2016 Carol Van Der Woude rated it really liked it
Ruth Gruber spent nine months with Raquela, gathering information and insights into the life of this remarkable woman. The resulting biography is a story of the babies born to holocaust survivors—and the birth of the nation of Israel. Raquela was sent to refugee camps as a midwife to minister to women that were refused entry into Palestine.

Jul 10, 2013 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, kindle
I love reading books about this period in Israel's history, but it's hard to find historical accounts that even pretend to address more than one side of such a contentious era of desperation and nationalism and volatile politics. This biography of Raquela Prywes is no exception, and while a lovely ode to a strong woman who believed in Israel, and although the author clearly has good intentions, Gruber alternates between vilifying and victimizing Arab residents by labeling them terrorists, witles ...more
Mar 02, 2015 Marjean rated it liked it
Shelves: biographical
Fascinating history of Palestine becoming Israel 1920's to 1960's. So much history I wasn't familiar with all told through the biographical sketch of one 9th generation Jew/Israeli nurse/midwife. She crosses paths with the captain of the Exodus ship, Begin, Meir, etc. etc. Interesting read.
Aug 09, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it
The title character lived a rich and meaningful life during the days before, during, and after Israel's struggle for nationhood. As a nurse/midwife, she worked in the camps into which the British forced the thousands who hoped to make Israel their home after World War Two. Later, she worked with her husbands to create a strong medical community. Despite the serious historical topics Gruber covers, she brings Raquela to life as a warm, caring, sensitive woman whose desire to marry the right man i ...more
Apr 20, 2014 Ellen rated it liked it
Seems I read this book but more or less forgot that I read it.
I guess that deserves a 3--any better or worse and i would have remembered it more!
Jan 17, 2016 Briana rated it liked it
Pretty interesting read. The first half read like a novel; the second half not so much. But, I learned a lot about Israel's trouble during and after World War II. Raquela's story made me proud to be a woman. She shows how much women can accomplish and that sometimes, it's only women who can heal some wounds.
Nov 30, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated learning about WWII from a new perspective.
Wendy Bornstein
Aug 29, 2016 Wendy Bornstein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Raquela. After having recently visited Israel last winter the book gave me a new perspective on the life and difficulty of the early settlers and the hardships they endured as Israel became a state. Raquela had an amazing role to help build the current health infastructure which is now attributable to many who were part of the Hadassah Medical Hospital. She played a very important role particularly as a midwife and helped many early settlers. I learned a lot about th ...more
Jlk Butler
Sep 11, 2016 Jlk Butler rated it really liked it
Excellent story of one woman whose life intricately intertwines the transition from British Occupied Palestine into the Jewish State of Israel.
Carol Catinari
Sep 07, 2012 Carol Catinari rated it liked it
Just started next month's Book Club selection. We've read The Ruth Gruber Story -- she's an amazing woman. We also saw a film about her accomplishments during the end of WWII, and was equally impressed by this woman. Now, we're reading her telling of the story of another accomplished woman, living in Israel pre-statehood.

3.5 would be my rating.... because of Raquela...she was a most interesting and admirable woman. . But the writing style is sorta flat. I didn't finish it, and wasn't compelled t
I enjoyed this book for the history of Israel and the best parts were those set in the internment camps in Atlit and on Cyprus.
Unfortunately the writing was not good. The narrative was disjointed, the characters cliches and towards the end the pace was rushed.
Also there were some weird misuses of English that made me wonder if English was the author's mother-tongue.
This novel was worth reading for the historical aspects not for the story.
Dec 08, 2010 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Gruber did her homework for this book, and it shows. This is the compelling biography of a ninth-generation Sabra named Raquela, who found herself in the thick of things as remarkable transitions were taking place in the life of her people. A friend handed a copy of the book to me, and I put off reading it for a several weeks, but once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.
Brenda Funk
Sep 12, 2012 Brenda Funk rated it it was amazing
Fascinating story, well told. The issues in the Middle East are very complex, and I found this telling to be very much from the side of the Jewish people of course, but still worth reading for sure to give you a better understanding of what the history and current situation is like in this part of the world.
Melissa Williams
Jul 02, 2013 Melissa Williams rated it really liked it
A beautiful story of the resiliency of the Jewish people of Palestine and the birth of Israel at the end of WWII. This novel tells the story of a midwife's journey during these tumultuous years, bringing hundreds of new Israelites into the world. They need a new cover or photo.
Sep 29, 2008 Shana rated it it was amazing
This story of an incredible nurse, Raquela, set against the background of the birth of Israel, is a combination biography, love story, and historical novel. Reminded me of Leon Uris' Exodus, but all the more amazing because this story was true. I highly recommend it.
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Ruth Gruber is an award-winning Jewish American journalist, photographer, and humanitarian. Born in Brooklyn in 1911, she became the youngest PhD in the world and went on to author nineteen books, including the National Jewish Book Award–winning biography Raquela (1978). She also wrote several memoirs documenting her astonishing experiences, among them Ahead of Time (1991), Inside of Time (2002), ...more
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