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From Beirut to Jerusalem

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  8,600 Ratings  ·  704 Reviews
This is a book that must be read by all who are concerned about the present and future of a part of our world to which Western civilization has always been and will continue to be, vitally connected...
Paperback, 608 pages
Published July 15th 1990 by Anchor Books (first published 1989)
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(showing 1-30)
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Brendan
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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K
Oct 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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)
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mike
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
Thành
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trong 10 năm sống và làm việc của mình ở trung đông, Thomas Friedman đã trải qua những khoảng khắc và bước ngoặt lịch sử tại đây.
Với 5 năm đầu sống tại Beỉut, Friedman đã được chứng một "Tam Quốc Diễn Nghĩa" ở Trung đông đầu những năm 80. Nhưng là "đa tộc" thay cho "tam quốc" và "xung đột lợi ích" thay cho "diễn nghĩa".
Sau khi được NYT thiên chuyển đến Jerusalem, Friedman đã dành 5 năm tiếp theo cuộc cuộc đời để tìm hiểu và sống cuộc sống của một người Do Thái, trên một đất nước Do Thái, vô cùng
...more
Noah
Feb 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Carli
May 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Adam
Dec 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one.
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
...more
Dave
Jul 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
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
Nick Black
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Chris Hall
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Sara
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Naina
May 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is his only good book. It's a good account of the middle east at the time that he was staioned in Beirut and the writing quality is far better than his current books. It's a great primer if you need middle east politics background
brian
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Emily
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics
This was required reading for one of my undergrad poli sci classes, and it's very good. Anyone who's interested in learning more about the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict should read it.
Dr.J.G.
Friedman's life, work and impressions of the two places when he was stationed there during the eighties, the work is informative in detail in more ways than one - horrors such as Hama and confusion of Lebanon are not this well known to those not of the nations involved, for example - and very worth reading.

Even as one reads these accounts one wonders at the cry against the comparatively smaller details of events elsewhere due to the democratic nature of the nations and culture in the said elsew
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Ryan Schnier
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem is an extremely informative yet incomplete book about the origins of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It tracks the author's growing disillusionment with Israel and its policies, as he progresses from a young zionist to someone that sympathizes more with the Palestinian cause. As a result, this book (the second half, in particular) tells the Palestinian narrative of the Israel-Palestine conflict, holding Israel to a higher moral standard without serious r ...more
Matt
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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Onkar
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I always wanted to know the background on Israel-Palestine conflict so I picked up this book. Thomas Friedman writes with clarity and since he spent a large chunk of his time in both sides of the conflict, he has certain authority in the matter. The book is split in two parts, first one explains the horrors faced by Beirut and second one talks about an alarming situation in Jerusalem. Even if this books is set in the 80s, it still does a great job in explaining the conflict. If you are intereste ...more
Susan O
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, but more so when I realized it was memoir rather than history. Friedman is writing about his time as a journalist in Beirut and Jerusalem roughly between 1979 and 1989. He was in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war and the Israeli invasion, intended to drive out Arafat and the PLO, and moved on to Jerusalem in time for the first intifada, beginning in 1987.

I enjoyed the first half of the book more and feel that he did a better job in it of simply reporting the circu
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Hanna
Nov 24, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Amy
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Josh Meares
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
EJ Johnson
Apr 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
Marit
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, judaism
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
Joseph
Mar 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Kerem
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very detailed account of Friedman's time in Beirut and Jerusalem, including all the gory details and the human aspect of the stories. He evaluates the deep-rooted problems of the Middle East not from a Western viewpoint but indeed builds a good understanding of locals' viewpoints, including their tribal approaches. He presents even a fictional 'peace plan', which is more realistic than what one would expect in Western media. Overall a very interesting book and a very well written story.
Jonathan
Oct 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-warfare
Good overall book on not only the authors experiences as a journalist in wartime Beirut and Jerusalem, but also a political, religious, and ethnic examination of the two countries and their place in the world. At the end though it tends to really bog down in his philosophy. While very well thought out bit of dry reading for me there at the end.
Bita
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very good book. Easy and interesting to read. It was written in 1989 or so. It covers the case of Lebanon/Israel and up to a point Syria. I highly recommend it. At the end it gets boring so I just skimmed through the last couple of chapters. Also one chapter deals only with Israel and Judaism which I found also not interesting.
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Difficult read 3 94 Jun 08, 2012 09:37AM  
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“Men grant and withdraw their love according to their whims, but fear is a hand that rests on their shoulders in a way they can never shake.” 7 likes
“As I noted in Chapter 14, “The Earthquake,” there was a supermarket in Jerusalem where I shopped for fruits and vegetables almost every day. It was owned by an Iraqi Jewish family who had immigrated to Israel from Baghdad in the early 1940s. The patriarch of the family, Sasson, was an elderly curmudgeon in his sixties. Sasson’s whole life had left him with the conviction that the Arabs would never willingly accept a Jewish state in their midst and that any concessions to the Palestinians would eventually be used to liquidate the Jewish state. Whenever Sasson heard Israeli doves saying that the Palestinians really wanted to live in peace with the Jews, but that they just couldn’t always come out and declare it, it sounded ludicrous to him. It simply ran counter to everything life in Iraq and Jerusalem had taught him, and neither the Camp David treaty with Egypt nor declarations by Yasir Arafat—nor the Palestinian uprising itself—had convinced him otherwise. As I said, as far as Sasson was concerned, the problem between himself and the Palestinians was not that they didn’t understand each other, but that they did—all too well. Sasson, I should add, did not appear to be ideologically committed to Israel’s holding the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He was a grocer, and ideology did not trip easily off his tongue. I am sure he rarely, if ever, went to the occupied territories. Like a majority of Israelis, he viewed the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip primarily in terms of security. I believe that Sasson is the key to a Palestinian–Israeli peace settlement—not him personally, but his world view. He is the Israeli silent majority. He is the Israeli two-thirds. You don’t hear much from the Sassons of Israel. They don’t talk much. They are not as interesting to interview as wild-eyed messianic West Bank settlers, or as articulate as Peace Now professors who speak with an American accent. But they are the foundation of Israel, the gravity that holds the country in place. And, more important, years of reporting from Israel have taught me that there is a little bit of Sasson’s almost primitive earthiness in every Israeli—not only all those in the Likud Party on the right side of the political spectrum, but a majority of those in the Labor Party as well; not only those Israelis born in Arab countries, but those born in Israel as well. Indeed, the Israeli public is not divided fifty-fifty on the question of peace with the Palestinians. The truth is, the Israeli public is divided in three. One segment, on the far left—maybe 5 percent of the population—is ready to allow a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza tomorrow, and sincerely believes the Palestinians are ready to live in peace with the Jews. Another segment, on the far right—maybe 20 percent of the population—will never be prepared, for ideological reasons, to allow a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. They are committed to holding forever all the Land of Israel, out of either nationalist or messianic sentiments. In between these two extremes you have the Sassons, who make up probably 75 percent of the population. The more liberal Sassons side with the Labor Party, the more hard-line Sassons side with the Likud, but they all share a gut feeling that they are locked in an all-or-nothing communal struggle with the Palestinians. Today the” 1 likes
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