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Thomas L. Friedman
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From Beirut To Jerusalem: Updated With A New Chapter

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  6,792 ratings  ·  586 reviews
This extraordinary bestseller is still the most incisive, thought-provoking book ever written about the Middle East. Thomas L. Friedman, twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, and now the Foreign Affairs columnist on the op-ed page of the New York Times, drew on his ten years in the Middle East to write a book that The Wall Street Journal called "a ...more
Published (first published 1989)
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If you're sick and tired of what a pedantic wind-bag Thomas Friedman has become since his stupid 'lexus & olive-tree' epiphany, take a trip back to when he was less pedantic, less wind-baggish, and could make a point without the use of a dozen unnecessary, self-aggrandizing anecdotes.

From Beirut to Jerusalem is entertaining, well-written, poignant, and a great primer to middle-eastern/Israeli-Palestinian affairs. The Beirut section of the book is a bit better than the Jerusalem section (I ge
Nov 05, 2009 K rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with a serious interest in understanding the Middle East conflict
According to one cynical goodreads reviewer, From Beirut to Jerusalem offers some insight into “two sets of idiots killing each other over a piece of dirt.” My instinctive reaction when I read this was to feel sorry for this reviewer who clearly doesn’t know what it means to have a homeland, and to be so deeply invested in it as to be willing to die for it. My husband pointed out that the reviewer may actually know what it’s like to have a homeland. What the reviewer doesn’t know is what it’s li ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 28, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Interested in the Region and Foreign Policy
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Sherri; The Ultimate Reading List: History
It was an Israeli friend who told me that if I wanted to understand today's Middle East, I should read this book. The author is well-qualified as a guide to the region’s complexities. Friedman, who is Jewish and studied Hebrew as a child, as a teen spent a vacation in an Israeli Kibbutz. He started studying Arabic as well, and fell in love with Egypt after a two-week visit on his way to a semester at Hebrew University. Less than two years later he was taking Arabic courses at the American Univer ...more
I'm not a huge fan of Friedman lately, but this book is great. I thought the section on Beirut to be more autobiographical in terms of relating directly to his experience as a journalist there. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem section seemed more broad. I can't help but wonder (I'm sure I can read his NY Times column if I wanted to find out)how he views events since- post- assasination of Rabin, premiership of Netanyahu, second intifada. At any rate, this is a must read for anyone interested in that are ...more
I used to follow and read Thomas Friedman’s columns regularly. Thought he was a pretty interesting guy even if I didn’t subscribe to his politics. But he became a bloated, pompous caricature of a journalist as he turned out junk like The World is Flat, The Sky is Blue, The Sea is Salty (well maybe the last two aren’t real but he has a bunch of similar-sounding books). I decided to go back to his first book From Beirut to Jerusalem to see how he got his start. I figured it would be a less slanted ...more
Knowing nothing or Friedman I found it interesting that I was ridiculed for having this book in hand. I guess that's what you get for bringing 'Neo-Con Zionist' literature to an internship in Palestine! My only prior knowledge of the book was that it covered the recent history of the Middle East with a heavy emphasis on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. I thought I'd dive in for a bit of education. . .

During the first half of the book, Friedman's profession is made very clear, both through
A very insightful book that tells the story of two different cultures at odds, not just with one another, but with themselves. He draws parallels between these two disparate societies by focusing on each one's search for identity. In addition to the politics, greed, and the arrogant assumption that cruelty can be justified by an invisible sociopath in the sky described in this book, the author also beautifully conveys the dignity and sanity of which human beings are capable, even in the worst si ...more
I am woefully ignorant of most of the conflicts in the Middle East, and even though the information in this book is pretty dated, it offers a useful window into the dynamics in Lebanon and Israel. Friedman writes with restraint and insight, and has some truly great pieces of analysis, like the chapter on Israel and Jewish identity. Now if he could only stop indulging his analogy fetish. Which one is it, Tom? Is the Middle East like an ice cream cone, or is it like The Great Gatsby? Make up your ...more
This was recommended to me by a friend as a must-read for anyone interested in Israeli politics or history. And I agree. This was Friedman before he became the self-aggrandizing, pompous (though still very smart) writer he is today. I liked how Friedman structured his book, moving back and forth between small, intimate stories and large world politics, and shifting the focus from Beirut to Jerusalem but constantly weaving in other details, historical tidbits, etc. to make a very vivid, fleshed-o ...more
Josh Meares
This is a really eye-opening book, especially for someone of my generation. Most of the events in this book happened before I was born or while I was a toddler, and our public education system tends to ignore other countries. So, Friedman provides a thoughtful, insightful analysis of the Middle Eastern problem. He gives a lot of background and makes it interesting by including his own personal experiences with terrorist bombing and hijackings. His personal knowledge of events really shines throu ...more
This is an excellent read. Friedman is an eloquent writer.

The first half of the book is a riveting account of Friedman's stay in Beirut between 1979 - 1984 as a journalist for the New York Times. He doesn't try to prove points, but rather makes observations that are reinforced by his actual experiences and a plethora of data he collects, whether this data be a formal interview, a casual conversation, or overhearing a TV or radio ad. These observations all come together to paint an impression of
EJ Johnson
Sep 18, 2008 EJ Johnson rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious foreign policy studiers
Recommended to EJ by: MJ
Like MJ said this book took longer to read then most. I almost quit midway through because I was getting bored. But I am glad I finished. Thomas Friedman was a reporter in first Beirut and then Jerusalem for about a decade 1979 to 1988. It was very interesting to get first hand accounts of what was happening during that time. Mr. Friedman shows his polically left leanings more than once in the book but I still felt that he worked hard to report objectively while in the book sharing his feelings ...more
The setup of the book is great - a juxtaposition of Beirut and Jerusalem/Israel by someone who has spent substantial time in both places - but I take issue with some of its stylistic aspects. I understand Friedman's forte is journalism, not literature, and I believe this was his first full length book, but I found some of his metaphors and similes unacceptably tenuous: a burglarized mansion symbolizing Israel subjected to violent terrorism (seriously? bombs killing children are nothing like stol ...more
Friedman's book is easily one of the best primers on the history of the conflict in the mideast. I have mixed feelings about Friedman as a columnist, but this book is built on his time as a journalist in the region - first as a reporter in Beirut, then later as bureau chief in both Beirut and Jerusalem. His time in the region - over a decade - means From Beirut To Jerusalem has an impressive level of comprehensiveness.

While the depth of Friedman's reporting is one of the main strengths of the b
These days, Friedman is possibly the single worst prose stylist with column space in a major newspaper. But before self-aggrandizing anecdotes, painfully mixed metaphors, and banal truisms were added to his arsenal, he wasn't half bad. And here, he's damn good. Dealing with the Middle East, he weds a lifelong obsession to on the ground experience - the result being one of the most riveting nonfiction reads I've had in a while. Objective without being passionless, personal without being self-abso ...more
Galina Kalvatchev
What an amazing piece of writing! It took me more than 3 months to read it and that is because I wanted to take my time with this book. It is really balanced, tremendously informative and at the same time entertaining.

I haven't read anything as good on the Middle East as Friedman's analysis. His description of life in Beirut is outstanding, his study of Arafat is very insightful, and his dissection of the whole region is unmatched. Besides all that, the author can be quite funny. I loved the an
Nick Black
I started reading this once before, then had it stolen by Mike Silverburg...bastad! Reacquired at Borders, 2008-04-08

Well, I very much disliked The World is Flat, but this was pretty awesome. Not at all a history, per say (although you'll get a good glimpse of the 80's era, especially the Beirut troubles and the Arafat era prior to the first intifada), but a pretty solid memoir of a fascinating time and place.
Very poignant and insightful analysis to what has happened, and what is happening in the Middle East. This book allows me to take on a global citizen's point of view to scrutinize the rivalry between the Jews and the Palestinians as well as within the wider Middle East context for the first time, which is extremely relevant to anyone looking to form his/her own stance and opinion around the issue/region.

The author's account also got me really interested and intrigued by politics - that politics
I absolutely loved reading this book. I knew it was old (or old considering all the changes in the Middle East) but had heard how relevant it still was. And it was, so thorough, giving me much of the background to understanding the politics as they were when I was there in 2000, describing the various players who were the same two decades later but now I understood more of what they had done or tried to do. I can't wait to go back to the Middle East someday and I hope for a better future for all ...more
Friedman was a NY Times bureau reporter in Beirut (during the Civil War) and Jerusalam (during various wars and conflicts). Although Friedman can be a blowhard who relishes his near-miss war stories a bit too much (one thinks of an old patrician Brit reminiscing about Hunting Tig-ahs in In-jah), this remains the best explanation of Mideast conflicts.
Chris Hall
I can understand why the Middle East is the way it is now. Friedman was boots on the ground in both Beirut and Jerusalem in the 1980s as a reporter for the New York Times. An excellent writer, he keeps you engaged and draws thought-provoking analogies and conclusions throughout the book. I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in the region.
Thomas Friedman has become a blowhard, but this early book bears reading. His style is annoyingly idiosyncratic and at times pretty amateurish; I think Friedman really needed to be edited with a mallet. That said, it's far from un-readable. His style is accessible enough, clunky for being workmanlike, which is not a hanging offense to me.

Unfortunately, treatment of Israel gets overblown and self-obsessed in a truly boring way; again, I think he needed to be brutally edited. I felt like the secon
This book took me a LONG time to read...about 6 weeks. I had to stop now and then as I found it quite depressing. Written in the late 1980s by New York Times reporter Thomas Friedman, the book gives a good grounding in the politics of the Middle East, especially the conflict between the Palestinian and Israeli people (governments) and the Arab-Israeli wars of the past fifty years. I found it helpful in improving my understanding of the current situation. The book includes two updates, one writte ...more
This is a great book. I like the writing style and I learned a lot. Friedman is extremely well-informed and his first-hand experiences are truly interesting. Just be aware that it covers a limited period of time, and is very much an exposition of Friedman's own perspective.
it's easy to laugh at friedman: 'he's an intellectual lightweight', 'he's a diehard optimist', blahblahblah... put simply: this is always my first recommendation for anyone curious to read about the middle east. that's because it's fucking great. should be required reading.
David Cooke
This was a good complement to reading The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East. While The Lemon Tree essentially told the entire modern history of Palestine/Israel through two families who lived on the same land, this was a very focused effort meant to dive deeply in a very narrow stretch of time. Lucky for us, Thomas Friedman was around to report on some history in the making, and this book works really hard to express what life and the people are like to flesh out this ...more
I've read it twice - and taken notes. It is not a difficult read, but I was very unfamiliar with the history. It was definitely worth the time and effort.
Jenny Hilborne
Read this as part of a college course in 2004 - an interesting view from a journalist and a foreigner of life in the Middle East.

This book follows Friedman's career as a journalist as he was stationed first in Beirut, Lebanon and then in Jerusalem during the 1980's. He shares many antidotes and gives us his perspective of the Mid-Eastern conflict. He arrived in the Middle East during the middle of Lebanon's civil war. He shared how there wasn't just one civil war occurring, but actually three and it was very difficult keeping track of where the fighting was happening. One day Friedman was speaking to a colleague, Ibsan Hi ...more
"From Beirut to Jerusalem" was an interesting read. It centers on the author's experiences in those two cities during some of the most violent, and transformative, moments in the 20th century. After explaining what happened in the region, he continues on towards analysis and a sort of epilogue. Although the book is easy to read, it does take time since you will want to absorb what is being told. There are momements in "From Beirut to Jerusalem" that are very impactful and Friedman writes about t ...more
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Difficult read 3 89 Jun 08, 2012 09:37AM  
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Thomas Lauren Friedman is an American journalist. He is an op-ed contributor to The New York Times, whose column appears twice weekly and mainly addresses topics on foreign affairs. Friedman is known for supporting a compromise resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, modernization of the Arab world, environmentalism and globalization. He is considered to be a pluralist and most of his comm ...more
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