This is precisely the type of book I generally like to read; Something non-fiction, usually about a particular culture, giving information and sometimThis is precisely the type of book I generally like to read; Something non-fiction, usually about a particular culture, giving information and sometimes analyzing...it's right up my alley. Being that this was written in 1973 as a 'contemporary' look at the society, it's also a historical snapshot of what went on in the history of the culture in which I (sort of) currently live. I particularly enjoy books of this sort, the type others would find to be outdated, because so often people try to rewrite history for their own convenience, and books like this make it hard to fabricate what was for the sake of what one wished had actually been.
I was going to therefore give this book 5 stars. I was so close. Now, don't get me wrong, I've still enjoyed the book immensely. In a stage where I'm getting rid of most of the new books I acquire, this one is still a keeper. (I know exactly where it's going to find a home on my bookshelf...or rather, set of book-shelves.) It's informative, easy reading that looks at a culture I have a particular interest in, the writing style is comfortable and interesting, and I really have trouble putting it down, even when my baby is screaming, and I need to force myself to be torn away from the next paragraph.
So why couldn't I give it 5 stars? It wasn't due to the author's irritating habit of repeatedly setting the scene by describing the heat emanating from the "African sun" (Israel is actually located in Asia, he should have gotten this basic fact straight, not to mention his tedious redundancy.) or his referring to a particular young man as a "yeshiva boche" when the term is, I am 100% sure, "yeshiva bocher" (Is this a sign of poor editing? Or poor reporting? Regardless, someone should have caught it.) Well, it was speeding ahead as a 5 star book until page 189, when the author revealed his strong anti-religious bias, giving the reader the impression that anyone who identifies as Orthodox, with few exceptions, is arrogant, hard-deaded, unreasonable, antiquated and, in a nutshell, not very logical or nice. He basically spent the entire 10th chapter criticizing the Orthodox. Well, his bias is directed at a social group that includes me, and as such I take his bias personally. I'm not personally offended, but obviously I can't fully enjoy the work of an author (or set of authors) that is (are?) currently bashing my chosen way of life and community, not to mention my personality, or at the very least the personality of 'people like me.' So a downgrade to 4 stars, from me, anyway, was in order.
But other than his anti-religious bias and his poor research/editing skills (should I now be distrustful of the entire book?) I really enjoyed this and would recommend it to anyone who wouldn't be swayed against the Orthodox community by reading it....more
This was a semi-charming, somewhat simplistic look at the life of Israeli teens in the 80's. Reading this account almost 30 years later, this is a snaThis was a semi-charming, somewhat simplistic look at the life of Israeli teens in the 80's. Reading this account almost 30 years later, this is a snapshot of a time in Israel's history when life was simpler and more uniquely Israeli, a time when there was no TV broadcast in the early afternoon and everyone had a siesta, a time when most teens still felt the responsibility to defend the nation and help their families based on ideals, and had a strong dose of respect for the older generations based on what they'd been through and what they did for the younger members of society.
Although I'm not an expert on Israeli society, or of teens today, and certainly not of teens in Israel, it seems those days are gone, making this book a sort of unintentional memorial to that which has been lost.
The shift since that time in educational choices and values is also salient, and likely all these changes have roots in a common, or at least in related, causes.
I have vague secondhand memories of the Israel the author describes, but I don't think it exists any longer, making the book more historical than contemporary, as books like this tend to become quite quickly.
The one thing the author touches on that seems to have remained a constant is the level of happiness and satisfaction found in Israeli society. After all, Israel continues to rate as one of the world's happiest countries. Still, (Spoiler alert, if there can be such a thing as a spoiler in non-fiction when dealing with a society's past that has already unfolded,) despite his realization that the Israeli focus on simplicity and family, rather than on status, wealth, and material comforts leads to a happier life, the closest Clayton-Felt can conceive of to adopting that lifestyle is "to someday have a small summer house near the sea in Herzliyya so that I can have the best of both worlds and continue the life I started there as well as the one I have here." (p93.) His youthful naivete prevents him from realizing that it's very hard to have your cake and eat it, too.
As an aside, on p70-71, the author refers to the social group as "the chaver" when in fact he means "the chevre" or "chevra." "Chaver" means 'friend', not "group." His fact-checking leaves something to be desired, therefore.
This book likely made it to publication because his father is an author. Still, taking the length into consideration, the investment is small, so it's worth a look.
This was one of the books I acquired at clearance night of the book sale, when everything was the equivalent of around $0.25 per book. I don't think IThis was one of the books I acquired at clearance night of the book sale, when everything was the equivalent of around $0.25 per book. I don't think I actually paid for this one, rather one of the organizers of the event thrust it into my hands saying that "if anything should be rescued from the trash, this is it."
The book didn't look particularly interesting, but it did live up to it's hype, and then some. The book seemed to be incredibly masculine and have rather masculine appeal, but I also found it quire interesting.
The author executes this clever concept, not only on a plot level but linguistically as well. Overall an impressive and informative work. ...more
I paid 1 NIS for this book on clearance night at a used book sale (The equivalent of roughly $.25 USD) I was open to loving it and, not even having reI paid 1 NIS for this book on clearance night at a used book sale (The equivalent of roughly $.25 USD) I was open to loving it and, not even having read the book flap-description (at these prices, one can 'afford' to judge a book by it's cover) had no expectations. The book cover design is appealing but actually seemingly misleading if you know anything about Jerusalem and its populations. The hat and jacket on the figure depicted on the cover seems to indicate someone who dresses in ultra-orthodox garb, especially when presented in front of the kind of posters that one normally finds in the neighborhoods heavy in that demographic. The paper on which the book was printed, the cover, and the irregular paper cuttings were very appealing (and appropriate for this kind of book) but the content, while decently written, wasn't as appealing.
While it's true that I don't tend toward detective stories, the book seemed like the kind of thing that would be written by an amateur writer to give voice to his sexual fantasies while getting the 'accomplishment' of writing and publishing a book under his belt, so to speak. I was extremely shocked to find that this author actually had a work nominated for a Pulitzer prize as this book seemed to be a bit of a joke. However, I've read worse, and while the plot wasn't enthralling, to say the least, the writing was on a decent enough level to not qualify as poor writing, which is how it has earned itself a second star.
The concept for this book very much appealed to me. Although I'm not a history buff (history in school was sadly always presented as a list of dates oThe concept for this book very much appealed to me. Although I'm not a history buff (history in school was sadly always presented as a list of dates of wars rather than the story of the lives of people in times past) the idea of searching for G-d's hand in seemingly mundane historical events seems like a good training exercise (isn't that what I'm striving for in my own daily life?) and surprisingly, the book didn't just include "wow-everything worked out great, G-d must have been behind that" simplicity but spoke about both seemingly positive AND negative outcomes, as well as 'coincidences' that one can learn from on a practical level.
I have to take a moment here to rave about the book design. The person (people?) who designed this book is BRILLIANT. The layout, the fonts, the pictures, the vellum dust-jacket, all supremely well done.
The book was unintimidating and mostly interesting, and did do what it set out to, but I kind of felt like the author is very into historical facts and Judaism, and decided to write a book to satisfy his own love of the 2 by bringing them together in this volume. Conceptually this is nice, but in reading, it seemed that the author's gratification took precedence over a clean presentation for the reader. The book was organized with each chapter covering a different historical event. Each chapter starts by giving the historical context and describing the historical event of focus, and then goes on to explain where one might be able to see G-d's hand in the happenings in and surrounding that event. If each chapter stopped here, that would be great. But then, each chapter went on to include a list of facts about that historical event, which didn't really add anything to the topic of the book. I understand that there are schools who use this book as a text for teaching history, which I fully support (despite the book's organization being non-chronological), but first and foremost, this is NOT a textbook. If the author wanted his readers to know these facts, then they he should have included them in the narrative section of the chapter, integrating them into the description of the historical event, rather than sticking them in as a list at the end.
Despite my criticism I very much feel this is a book worth reading, as it puts a different spin on events we might otherwise not view with as much depth....more
For some reason I mistakenly got into my head that this was about the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem, when, in fact, the book was very much about wFor some reason I mistakenly got into my head that this was about the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem, when, in fact, the book was very much about what the title indicates - Israel's presence in East Jerusalem (from its capture by its capture by Israel in 1967 during the Jordan-instigated 6 day war.
Reading any book like this, one wonders what political inclination the author has, or "what side he (or she) is on." Although that is overly simplistic, I assumed that anyone who would care enough to write a book on this topic would have a set of loyalties, or some political agenda. I found myself researching the author, reading the preface and approbations for the book in the hopes that I would ferret out where this man's loyalties lie. I certainly approached this text with the eyes of today's Middle Eastern political climate. And that doesn't quite fit.
Since this book is meant to be informative, and not a story, I hope that the following information, which I found to be most notable and interesting, is not considered a spoiler. If you would consider it to be such, then please stop reading here.
As mentioned above, I wondered to whom the author would be more sympathetic. On the one hand, his name indicates his Jewishness (with an implied default support of Israel.) On the other hand, he speaks Arabic, lived with Arab families and attended an Arab college, and spends his time writing about Israeli-Arab relations. In today's day and age (2012) no one in such a position would be able to write as objectively as this author did. Much has changed, and not generally for the better.
There were several points that stood out in the book. It's difficult to put them in some order, as they seem to be intertwined with one another. But this is what I was left with about Israel's conquest of East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967.
1 - Israel showed a tremendous amount of goodwill, and invested a tremendous amount of effort and money to improve the lives of these former Jordanians and to integrate them into Israeli society. 2 - These efforts were tempered by Israel's typical disorganization and inefficiency, which had a definite impact on these East Jerusalemites. 3 - The East Jerusalemites availed themselves of Israel's services and benefits (especially financial) and were quick to admit that their quality of life had increased perceptibly since Israel's sovereignty began, especially in the areas of a) physical comforts, and b)freedom of speech. 4 - (and this was most interesting to me) In light of all the above, the population STILL considered Israel's new dominion over East Jerusalem to be an "occupation" and did not wish to accept Israel's sovereignty. [5 - However, this was the official party line as stated by the press run from East Jerusalem. Notably, these East Jerusalem residents were not sure how long Israel's sovereignty in this region would last, and were afraid of being viewed by their former government and society as traitors, so it does make sense that they would vocally denounce their allegiance to and appreciation of life under Israeli rule with all of it's benefits.]
All in all, this was an interesting look at a unique historical period, assembled by an objective party and explained in a clear and concise manner. Anyone who has an interest in today's political situation in the Middle East would do well to familiarize himself with this book and its contents, as much of this history is re-written by the political activists of today....more