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The Haj

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  7,846 ratings  ·  270 reviews
Leon Uris retums to the land of his acclaimedbest-seller Exodus for an epicstory of hate and love, vengeance and forgiveness andforgiveness. The Middle East is the powerfulsetting for this sweeping tale of a land where revengeis sacred and hatred noble. Where an Arab rulertries to save his people from destruction butcannot save them from themselves. When violencespreads li ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published May 1st 1985 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1984)
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Naja Faysal
As I scribble through the comments on this book, I couldn't find any Arab person who've read it and commented on it.. and that in itself tells you something.

Being an Arab myself, I felt extremely sad about the misery of our race in the last century. Facing our brutal facts as Arabs is the only way to hope for a change and a better future. Although my country wasn't as devastated as Palestine, but I think we had our take of religious wars and sacred illusions where religion mixed with politics a
...more
Dan
On a purely aesthetic level, I enjoyed this book. Judging it purely as a novel, I'd rate it higher; I like Uris's writing style and the plot drew me in. But as a work of historical fiction, it scores lower for me. Without knowing enough about the Arab-Israeli conflict to be able to specifically dispute any of the historical analysis implied by the story, I came away feeling that the it couldn't be anything other than biased. As I recall it, the Jews come off as nobler people, entirely wronged an ...more
Tea Jovanović
nastavak romana Exodus
Irene
Sep 05, 2007 Irene rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Yes
This book is about the Arab culture, the creation of the State of Israel and how the Palestinians became refugees. Great book but makes you despair about ever being able to come to a resolution in the Middle East.
Chris
I'm not sure what it is with Leon Uris. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like every time I get through one of his stories, the ending just disappoints. That's how I felt about Armageddon and Topaz, and it's the same here.

SPOILERS will follow: This book, dealing with the origins of the modern Arab-Israeli conflict, specifically in regards to the perspective of a Palestinian family in the 1920s-1940s, is not usually my cup of tea. But I had the book, and figured I'd give it a shot. Like my other Uri
...more
Mike
Jul 12, 2008 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Serious students of the Middle East
"We wanted to build a Singapore and they wanted a Somalia" I heard those words from an Israeli businessman as I looked over the Erez crossing and industrial park. What I saw of the Palestinian areas during my visit there conforms to what this book has to say about the impact of the religion, the wars and the culture on Palestinian society. This is a sad and depressing book, as it gives you a view from the Palestinian side of the events before and after the establishment of Israel. It is well wor ...more
Clara Roberts
The book was a fascinating read of Arab and Islamic culture. The Arabs refused to do more than the miniumun amount of work and therefore were amazed to see the hard work of the Jews and some Europeans. This was 566 pages of Arabs sitting around in squalor complaining and expecting someone to come and rescue them. There seemed to be no iniative or ambition to do anything on their own. They had them same resources available to them that the Jews had but lacked any work ethic. Whereas the Jews abso ...more
Nonsequiteuse
In sixth grade, everything I knew about Israel and Palestine, I learned from Leon Uris. We did not cover the history of that region in school, and if fwe had, I'm sure that the coverage would have lacked nuance.

After reading Exodus, I wanted to be Jewish and live on a kibbutz. In sixth grade, the purity and passion of the characters seemed wholly believable.

In Leon Uris books, one side very clearly wears the white hat at all times. Given the desperate and horrible situation in the middle east,
...more
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
The Haj isn't for the faint of heart. It is very depressing and startling. Uris takes the reader back to Palestine in the the early to mid 20th Century. Exodus gave us the Jewish perspective while The Haj presents the Arab perspective. Uris covered 25,000 miles in the Palestine area and conducted over 1500 interviews researching his breakout masterpiece.While his trip was funded by a PR firm and Uris' religion is Judaism, I see no overt bias in either novel. The Haj seems to be biased, because A ...more
Diane
I thought this was a very well researched historical novel, both entertaining and informative. It made the history in the region between the 1920s and 1950s easier to understand. The story was terribly tragic and sad.

I was aware of the author’s obvious bias while reading it, but had a feeling that what he was saying about Arab and Jewish character was probably based mostly on reality. It seems that the Arab culture, which formed the religion of Islam, was summed up early in the book when Ishmae
...more
Matt
A certainly biased look at the origins of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as it was written by Jewish Leon Uris. It leaves doubts in my mind as a reader as to how fictional or nonfictional some of these events are. I understand it's a fictional novel, but the book spends a lot of time trying to paint the picture of Arab life in the Middle East. The more liberal side of me hopes that Uris has painted a falsified and horribly inaccurate picture because I wish people didn't have to live like that ...more
Deb
Not the easiest read in the world, but a great look at the history of the Palestinian refugees. I was amazed by the fact that the story is told from the Arab point of view, yet it is the Jews that come across as reasonable, honest, desiring of peace, etc.

This book has definitely given me a desire to read some non-fiction on the history of the Arab/Israeli conflict. I want to know how historically accurate this book is.
Beverly
Leon Uris now gives us the story of the birth of the state of Israel from the Arab point of view. His point of view could be categorized as anti-Arab, so everything he writes needs to be taken with a grain of salt. He follows one family as they cope with the changing times. Haj Ibrahim is the muktar of his village which is situated on the road to Jerusalem in a very strategic spot. Right down the road, on land that used to belong to the same absentee landlord that owns Ibrahim's village, a new J ...more
Anne
I picked up this book, thinking that it would be set in Saudi Arabia at the time of the Haj - the pilgrimage to Mecca. Instead it is about the head of a clan who has made the journey to Mecca and takes the name Haj as a title. It is an interesting read as far as Palestinian thought and reason (or lack thereof!) Since I live in the Middle East, I can attest to the reality of the profile presented in the book. There were points in reading the book when I had to pause and say to myself, "Oh - that' ...more
Lananorris
This book was a great source of information about what really lies at the bottom of the conflict between East and West, Jews and Arabs, Arabs and other Arabs, and Arabs and everyone else. It is however, very depressing. It is not uplifting at all. The misery of the Palestinian people is infinite and totally self-inflicted. They are pawns of everyone, but most of all of themselves. The main characters are not really likeable and they do not really like themselves. The life of Haj Ibrahaim, muktar ...more
Manugw
An amusing book to learn about Muslims and the Middle East Conflict
A great book, a historical fiction of the Israel Independence wars between 1920 and 1950 that give to the ensuing plight of the Palestinian and Jewish refugees. Most of the story is told as seen through the eyes of a smart Arab boy raised in a traditional conservative upper class Muslim family ruled by the stern hand of his father, the Haj (a title given to a Muslim individual who has accomplished the pilgrimage to Mecca)
Muslim
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Jean Poulos
I read this book in 1984 when it first came out. I have a note in my records that I thought the book was excellent. I can remember that I did not enjoy it as much as I did “Exodus.” I thought that with all the problems in the Middle East the book might provide me with some insight to the situation, so I decided to re-read the book.

The story is about a Palestinian Arab family living in Palestine in the 1920-1950 eras. The main narrator of the story is Ishmael the youngest son of Ibrahim, who is t
...more
Tashfin
The characters are well etched out.

It is also true that the middle eastern leaders have a cutthroat policy, something whose absence would have helped the entire region to prosper rather than be stagnated in their present situation with uprisings and wars.

While the book has shed some light about how the conflicts began right after the jewish resettlement into Palestine around 1920s, the entire story is a one-sided description where Arab muslims are depicted as inferior blood-thirsty sanctimonious
...more
Max Ostrovsky
Beautifully written and upsetting that this is part of history - events and mentality.
I know so many followers of Islam and am pretty familiar with the Qur'an that the presentation of the Arab mentality verges on the point of offensiveness. And considering the rich culture that they have spent centuries cultivating, it begs the question how a group with so much in common don't work together for common goals. It is saddening.
Times have changed and have moved on and I'd like to think that most i
...more
Julie
This book gave me a deeper understanding of Middle Eastern politics, Palestinian culture, and Islam. It greatly foreshadowed the current situation in the Arab world, and I think everyone should read it to develop a better comprehension of life in the Middle East. The story follows the life of a local leader, Haj Ibrahim and his family, namely his smart and diligent son Ishmael, during a period of great upheaval in Palestine. The arrival of the Jews and their attempt to establish Israel is at the ...more
Shipra Trivedi
The Haj is story about a leader of a village in Palestine, Haj Ibrahim, and the formation of the Israeli state and not about religious journey to Mecca. It deals with the political forces combining both for and against Israel, the Palestinians' relationships with the Jews that come to their land, and the family of Haj Ibrahim, told from the perspective of Ishmael, Ibrahim's youngest son who narrates how Haj Ibrahim became muktar of his family, about his leadership, his friendship with a Jewish P ...more
Nicholas
As a novel, this book wasn't particularly good. The plot is interspersed (especially at the beginning) with long historical treatises about the history of israel/palestine/the british mandate. Plot-wise, it gets better around page 200, but still feels more like an exposition than a work of fiction. I did find the sometimes narrator (Ishmael) compelling and likeable. But the ending was disturbing and a huge disappointment (I'll leave it vague to avoid spoilers).

For historical information, I found
...more
Heather
I got to page 115 and I'm done. I rarely give up on a book. But I'm through with this one.

Here is why: I would classify this book as 60% interesting story. Good characters, intriguing plot and I'm enjoying the stuff I'm learning about the Jews and Arabs...fascinating. Then there is the 30% of the book that is long and tedious descriptions of the politics, geography & conflicts of the region. I want to learn & understand it better, but it gets confusing and boring for me after a while. A
...more
Jbarth
I normally love Leon Uris' work so when I saw this in the library I eagerly added it to my stack and ran home to read it. Maybe it's a product of my being a mom and trying to instill a sense of fairness in my kids; maybe it's being a Jew in the thick of the Bible Belt, hyper aware of how I present myself and my viewpoints so that I don't offend or alienate anyone. However, I found myself putting the book down about 1/4 of the way through because I just couldn't handle the smug "Jews are always s ...more
David Katz
This is probably one of the best books to read if you want to understand the Arab mentality in Palestine and the rest of the Middle East. It is engaging, informative, exciting, and I had a hrd time putting it down. I've reread it many times.
Melodi
3.5 stars. And props to me for finishing it! I found the book fascinating then it got a little laborious as it explained the history then fascinating again, I think part of the problem for me was I know so little of the Arab conflicts in general. This book covered 1946-1956 in Palestine/Jerusalem between he Jews and Palestinians. I'm well aware of the culture, but the history amazes me at the dangers that pride allows. I do recommend to those stalwart historical fiction readers. I'm so glad a I ...more
Helena
Usually when I put down a book because I don't care to finish it, I won't write a review. It's often a question of personal taste. But with this one, I feel compelled to say something. I had to put this book down because it is so infuriatingly biased.

Listen, Leon Uris. I understand that you are Jewish and that this is inseparable from your narrative voice. And I understand that you probably did a lot of research for this book, as you did for your other, more famous books. But wow. Wow! How can y
...more
Ivan Benedict
This is an historical novel, taking place durng the
creation of the state of Israel. I presume much of the
"history" part has a basis in facts. The story would
indicate that the Arabs, at least at that time, were
generally incompetent, divided against each other,
mostly unable to compromise in opposition to the Jews.
There are good things written about the family at the
center of he story, an Arab family that was willing to
leave some of it's tradition and hatred.
The author, of course, is a Jew. I th
...more
Gordon
This was a terrible book to read. Not because of the quality of the storytelling - which was nothing special but not nearly as bad as some - but because it is so blatantly biased in its portrayal of Arab society. That is not to say the picture it portrays is completely inaccurate: the description of historical events is no doubt broadly correct and it is obvious that there are serious issues with violence, women and prejdice in Arab culture. But to assert, as Uris repeatedly does, that the Arab ...more
Mario
The only other Uris book I have read so far was Armageddon, and both the successes and failures of that book were present here, too. The story is well-written, brilliantly constructed, and the history was perfectly accurate. But, again, Uris somehow felt the need to make sure that his heroes were perfectly heroic and his villains were perfectly villainous. And again, like Armageddon, this was just not necessary. The "bad guys" Uris is relating really were bad, no honest account would state other ...more
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Do you think it's biased? 30 94 Jan 24, 2015 02:14PM  
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19708
Leon Marcus Uris (August 3, 1924 - June 21, 2003) was an American novelist, known for his historical fiction and the deep research that went into his novels. His two bestselling books were Exodus, published in 1958, and Trinity, in 1976.

Leon Uris was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Jewish-American parents Wolf William and Anna (Blumberg) Uris. His father, a Polish-born immigrant, was a pa
...more
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“Nonsense. Islam is unable to live at peace with anyone. We Arabs are the worst. We can’t live with the world, and even more terrible, we can’t live with each other. In the end it will not be Arab against Jews but Arab against Arab. One day our oil will be gone, along with our ability to blackmail. We have contributed nothing to human betterment in centuries, unless you consider the assassin and the terrorist as human gifts. The world will tell us to go to hell. We, who tried to humiliate the Jews, will find ourselves humiliated as the scum of the earth. Oh, put down that silly potsherd and let us have some coffee.” 2 likes
“On May 9, 1916, the British and French entered into a clandestine treaty on how they intended to carve up the region. The treaty was the Sykes-Picot, named for the negotiators. Always described as infamous, the treaty ignored both Jewish aspirations and Sharif Husain’s personal ambitions. And so Palestine became the ‘twice promised land.” 1 likes
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