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Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  189 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
From the much lauded author of Breaking News comes a version of Walking the Bible just for Israel.

With its dense history of endless conflict and biblical events, Israel's coastline is by far the most interesting hundred miles in the world. As longtime chief of NBC’s Tel Aviv news bureau, Martin Fletcher is in a unique position to interpret Israel, and he brings it off in a
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books
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This is a heartfelt book, written by a seasoned journalist (unknown to me but who well might be known to NBC television viewers or newspaper and magazine readers as I am not) Already a paradox appears: because when do journalists have a heart? They can't afford to. But MF has a heart big enough to encompass the entire spectrum of humanity represented in the tiny country that is Israel.

Originally, when first conceiving his plan to walk the Israeli coast from the Ladder of Tyre in Lebanon to the
Aug 10, 2012 K C rated it it was ok
Found the book disappointing, as Fletcher might have been seaching for the soul of Israel but he didn't find it. As an NBC reporter who has lived in Israel thirty odd years, his goal was to get away from the "news" items and find the "real" Israel as he walked down the coast. Since he has lived in Israel longer than I have, I was expecting some revelations and insights. Unfortunately with his limited Hebrew, his trek down the coast resulted in very few spontaneous meetings and discussions and mo ...more
Perhaps it deserves a slightly higher review, but I was hoping it would be primarily travel narrative. Instead, it's journalistic interviews, mostly about the Arab - Jew dilemma (best I can put it), which I'll give him props for carrying off as even-handed. There's also a bit about the kibbutz phenomenon and early Jewish settlement. Travel aspect was strongest around Tel Aviv itself. Recommended for folks interested in a historical perspective of the nation, less so if one is looking for a more ...more
Dec 08, 2010 Alan rated it really liked it
I liked this book very much. It is an eclectic view of the state of Israel by a reporter who has covered it for 20 years. Eclectic both because Fletcher has chosen to focus on that which he encounters as he walks the entire state from it's most northern border in Rosh Hanikra to its boarder with Gaza. His subject matter is as much what he sees as who he meets. He has no desire to be all encompassing. It is a snap-shot portrait based upon a journalist's approach to the subject. Meet, interview, a ...more
Guy Grobler
Aug 04, 2011 Guy Grobler rated it really liked it
At the beginning of the book the author (Who is an NBC special correspondent to the Middle East) sets out on a mission, to walk Israel's coast from North (Tyre's Ladder) to South (The Gaza border) saying that he wants to show the many other sides to Israel as its not fair that Israel is only known in world media for its conflicts with the Palestinians. Its a worthy cause from my point of view as there is so much more to Israel then the conflict, but as he walks and writes, he discovers it is ver ...more
Mar 12, 2013 Rod rated it liked it
Walking Israel was not what I expected. I thought it would relate travel experiences on his walk along the Mediterranean Coast of Israel, meeting and interacting with people he encountered. It was, however, more just a thread, tying together a number of stories written like a reporter (which Martin Fletcher is). He admitted early in the book that he discovered he was not the type of person who engaged strangers easily. Some of the interviews he conducted were done months after the trip. Even the ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I have also read Fletcher's book on walking Northern Ireland so I was prepared for his journalistic point of view and at times judgemental and oversimplified positions and it was clear at the outset of this book that he was poised to give Israel a very hard time. But as his trek went on, I do believe his thinking evolved and that he grew in front of his readers' eyes and that he simply admits by the end being absolutely in love with the country and its people. Also I learned ...more
Justin Green
Oct 13, 2014 Justin Green rated it liked it
Shelves: עברי
Enjoyable, well written. I learned a few things and appreciated the idea that the realities of the region are always more complicated, nuanced and human than what 'history' tells us. That is the great advantage of using the personal narratives of individuals. His own tale of trudging down the coast and getting heatstroke was self-deprecating and pretty funny.
Nov 16, 2015 Ayelet rated it did not like it
Despite claiming that he wants to show Israel in a positive light, he can't seem to manage one unqualified positive statement. Any time he says something good he has to include a downside. I disagree with a lot of the details that he includes as background or lists as general assumptions.
Mar 24, 2014 Soaraway rated it liked it
I found this book enjoyable. However, the author seemed unable to forego his journalistic biases. Firstly, the book and his investigations read a lot like he was a journalist doing research. The questions he posed let people not really tell their own stories so much as to tell the stories his questions led them to.
I also find most media presents and anti-Israel bias and I was hoping to find more sympathy for the Jews and Israel from someone who lives in Israel and married an Israeli. However, sy
Jan 05, 2011 Garryvivianne rated it really liked it
Great book. Author is (or was?) an anchorman for NBC news. He realized that news people DO tend to only tell the bad stuff happening. He decided to walk the shoreline in Israel & meet people & show that Israel is not only fighting & bombing. He met many interesting people, but realized that no matter where he went, the Jews hate the Arabs, the Arabs hate the Jews, no matter how close they lived or interacted together. When the walk was done, the shelling DID start, in these "quiet li ...more
May 18, 2011 Alice rated it really liked it
I liked this book very much! It is a very readable, engaging description of how Martin Fletcher, a respected journalist, walked the coast of Israel from the border with Lebanon in the north to the border with Gaza at the south. During the walk Mr. Fletcher encounters numerous Israelis, both Jews and Arabs, and his recounting of those meetings are delightful to read. He describes political situations but does not judge or offer pronouncements on how to arrive at peace between the factions. He tak ...more
Nov 04, 2010 Roxanne rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
The premise of the book was different from the typical books about Israel or this region in that the author consciously chose not to write the conflict narrative. Instead, he walked along the coast of Israel from the border with Lebanon to that with Gaza and told the stories of the people along the way. Unsurprisingly, many of those stories were indeed conflict narratives. Although the conclusions the author drew were at times simplistic, obvious or trite for anyone with significant experience o ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Leon rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of travelogues, Midddle Eastern culture, personal narratives
This book is a journey of tradition, belief & a life-long goal for Martin Fletcher, an NBC news reporter and long-time resident of a Northern Israeli town, who carves out six weeks out of his schedule and walks the length of the Israeli coast. Along the way, he collects stories, gathers beliefs and presents a "look into the foundations that fostered the creation of modern Israel, while retracing & re-evaluating his past experiences.

A great book about a reporter's reflection on his career
Jan 26, 2014 Sharron rated it really liked it
I started this a while ago, then put it down because I had library books out the wazoo. I just picked it up and I'd left off right when he was talking with kids about their military service. Timing was freaky. I probably won't finish for a while, but it's nice to visit.

(2 days later) So glad I kept reading now! Towards the very end of the book it deals with the time in Dec 2008 when Hamas had new rockets from Iran that could reach Ashkelon for the first time. Reading Israeli's reactions to the r
Feb 01, 2012 Elviza rated it really liked it
Walking Israel is grippingly written. A tad compulsive from time to time depending on the author's mood during the walk he took from the border of Lebanon until the wall separating Israel and Gaza.

I found astounding details in terms of historical background - spanning from the holocaust , 1948 war, Six-Day war to Yom Kippur war, to name a few - and kibbutz life in Israel.

This book has made it clear that at the end of the day, regardless whether you are a jew, muslim or christian, all you care
Jun 10, 2012 Miri rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
I liked Fletcher's writing and I thought the idea of walking the entire coast of Israel is pretty cool. However, I don't think he really did what he set out to do. Namely, the point of the book was supposedly to show Israel "beyond the conflict," but Fletcher, true to his training as a news reporter, seem to seek out only conflict as he goes, deliberately asking all of his interview subjects about their views of the other side of the war.

It was still a good book, but not what I'd been hoping to
Joe Drape
Sep 25, 2010 Joe Drape rated it really liked it
This is a book for those out there who, like me gain their knowledge of Israel comes from the news, but are curious about the place not its (our ours) policies. It's part memoir and travelogue, a history lesson combined really moving sketches of the people who call Israel home - Jews & Arabs. Martin Fletcher is an engaging and amiable tour guide and writes with humor and heart. He shows what the two sides have in common, as well as the passions that are keeping them a part. It was an easy re ...more
Mar 10, 2013 Anne rated it liked it
Interesting walk along the Israeli coast from North to South. Reminds me that things are always more complex than you think they are. Prior to the State of Israel being formed in 1948, Jews had been buying up property in Palestine, so there is a complex trail of ownership of the land (including expropriation and other land grabs). And the position of the Arab Israelis is interesting. Most like the stability of the Israeli state as opposed to the chaos of the Arab state, but... Worth reading.
Feb 07, 2011 Bonnie rated it really liked it
This is a powerful and fun and also disturbing book to read. I think fletcher gets at the heart of Israel through his interviews with people and his personal stories. Having just returned from Israel within the past 2 weeks I discovered that Fletcher answered many of my own questions with his timely interviews and observations. This is one of the only books I have found that updates from 2000 thru 2010.
May 25, 2014 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book: entertaining and educational. The author has an engaging writing style, and he has a knack for finding some good personal stories, capturing much of Israeli history along the way. This book has been part of my Middle East education this year, but I would recommend it for anyone interested in some good stories, and an opportunity to broaden your perspective.

And I definitely want to read his other books.
Kathleen McRae
Mar 03, 2014 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it
Martin Fletcher,a foreogn correspondent walked the shores of Israel and sort of went through the history of Those lands and the multiple conflicts that have happened there.He also talked to a variety of people he met on Arab/Jewish issues that are long unresolved.Interesting but not a full perspective
Jan 14, 2012 Noah rated it it was ok
I wasn't a fan of this book. It's not terribly engaging and, more importantly, Fletcher's stated intention is to talk about the "real Israel" beyond the conflict and the headlines, and he mostly fails at that. Inevitably he starts a thread about some fishing village and it unspools into talking about all the usual stuff. I was hoping for a fresh perspective and didn't get it.
Nov 22, 2012 Mangomoon rated it really liked it
Martin Fletcher's book is well written and doesn't pretend to give easy answers. It shows the view from the ground, which like most of life, is complicated and full of gray spaces. I loved meeting the various characters he ran into on his journey down the coast of Israel. They gave a face and a set of very personal histories to a richly diverse place. I'm very glad to have read it!
Apr 03, 2012 Robert added it
Excellent book, I actually bought at the Steimatsky's in Ben Gurion. i will recommend this to Israel travelers, as there really is no great books on the market that both cover the span of Israel for those who are trying to acquaint themselves with its geography and its people, traveling for the first time or first time in a long time.
Seth Kaplan
Oct 02, 2011 Seth Kaplan rated it it was amazing
Got to hear the author speak last year and bought this book immediately after. This is a fascinating account of seeing Israel by foot. It offers amazing insight into a country that is so poorly portrayed by the mainstream media. Highly recommend it.
Josh Roth
Feb 20, 2013 Josh Roth rated it did not like it
Lecherous old man, condescending towards his subjects and constantly whining about poor Arab refugees. A few interesting characters and stories along the way but overall didn't get much of a picture of Israeli society or where it's going.
Simon Springer
Jun 05, 2013 Simon Springer rated it really liked it
The idea is fantastic, but his travels show his true "news" over the years, exceedingly biased and often just under-thought. However, the book was an interesting read, well-written and something I wish I could do.
May 07, 2012 Leann rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-ish
Proof again that if you are famous and write a book I will read it. Thankfully this was another good book with lots of great information about Israel...a lot of stuff that was very interesting but that I had never really thought about before.
Nov 21, 2011 David rated it liked it
Provides a different perspective on Israelis - Arabs and Jews - and avoids the black and white discussion of issues that tends to dominate discussions of the country. Interesting people; some a bit strange, all multi-faceted. Not too different from the rest of us.
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MARTIN FLETCHER is one of the most respected television news correspondents in the world and he is also rapidly gaining an equally impressive reputation as a writer. He has won many awards, including five Emmys, a Columbia University DuPont Award, several Overseas Press Club Awards, and the National Jewish Book Award. Fletcher and his wife, Hagar, have raised three sons. He spent many years as the ...more
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