A Season in Bethlehem by Joshua Hammer
Unholy War in a Sacred Place

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Synopsis

Newsweek's Jerusalem bureau chief Joshua Hammer arrived in the West Bank in October 2000 -- just after Ariel Sharon made his inflammatory visit to the Haram al-Sharif, otherwise known as the Temple Mount. Sharon's trip ignited the worst violence the Middle East had seen in decades. Overnight, the peace process gave way to an ever-worsening cycle of attack, revenge, and retaliation, destabilizing the entire region, killing thousands, and culminating in Israel's reoccupation of Palestinian towns in 2002.
A Season in Bethlehem is the story of one West Bank town's two-year disintegration, as witnessed by a reporter who was there from the beginning. Woven together from Hammer's own firsthand reportage plus hundreds of interviews, it follows a dozen characters whose lives collided on the streets of this biblical city. They include a Bedouin tribesman who rose to become the commander of Bethlehem's most feared and brutal gang of gunmen; the beleaguered governor, an opponent of the al-Aqsa intifada, who believed he had a mandate to stop the violence, only to discover that Yasser Arafat was undermining him; a Christian businesman who watched helplessly as his community was squeezed between Muslim militants and the Israeli army; an eighteen-year-old female honors student turned suicide bomber; and an Israeli reservist, son of a leader of the Peace Now movement, who wrestled with his left-wing convictions as he rode to battle through the predawn streets.
The narrative reaches a climax with a moment-by-moment recreation of the epochal drama that drew many of these characters together: the thirty-nine-day siege of the Church of the Nativity. A clear-eyed chronicle of deepening chaos and violence, in which Hammer lets the opposing sides speak for themselves, A Season in Bethlehem is both a timely and timeless look at how longstanding religious and political tensions finally boiled over in a place of profound resonance: the birthplace of Jesus.
 

About Joshua Hammer

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Joshua Hammer is a veteran foreign and war correspondent for Newsweek who has covered conflicts on four continents. He is the author of two previous books, A Season in Bethlehem and Chosen by God: A Brother's Journey. He has contributed articles to The New Yorker, Smithsonian, and many other publications. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with his wife and two sons.
 
Published September 22, 2003 by Free Press. 304 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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In the meantime, Palestinian hopelessness, attributed by the author to Ariel Sharon’s determination to achieve security through force alone, make adored, state-protected heroes out of the nation’s toughest, dirtiest, Bedouin-descended tribal gangs of arms dealers and car thieves, while school kid...

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Publishers Weekly

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Beginning with the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in the fall of 2000 and ending with the notorious siege on Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity in spring 2002, Hammer opens his notebook to everyone from a Palestinian zealot to a Christian entrepreneur, from an Israeli army commander to the topogra...

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