My Promised Land by Ari Shavit
The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel

78%

11 Critic Reviews

It’s not just that Mr. Shavit lays out the story of Israel’s founding with clarity and precision. This is a story we’ve read before...It’s that he so deliberately scrutinizes the denial he locates at the heart of Israeli consciousness.
-NY Times

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE ECONOMIST

Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
 
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.
 
We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.
 
As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.
 
Praise for My Promised Land

“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times
 
“[A] must-read book.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
 
“Important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Spellbinding . . . Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”—The Economist
 
“One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years.”—The Wall Street Journal


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Ari Shavit

See more books from this Author
ARI SHAVIT is a member of the editorial board at the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.







Author Residence: Israel
 
Published November 19, 2013 by Spiegel & Grau. 464 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon9
Peak Rank on Dec 15 2013
icon3
Weeks as Bestseller
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for My Promised Land
All: 11 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Below average
on Mar 31 2013

His effective mix of autobiographical reflections and interviews with key participants peters out toward the end into journalistic snippets...

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Leon Wieseltier on Nov 21 2013

...Shavit’s admonition that “the old discourse of duty and commitment was replaced by a new discourse of protest and hedonism,” his exhortation that “the immediate challenge is the challenge of regaining national potency,” is grimmer and more draconian than the spirited and capacious voice in which his book is otherwise written.

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Nov 19 2013

It’s not just that Mr. Shavit lays out the story of Israel’s founding with clarity and precision. This is a story we’ve read before...It’s that he so deliberately scrutinizes the denial he locates at the heart of Israeli consciousness.

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph... | See more reviews from NY Times

Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Rayyan Alshawaf on Nov 29 2013

Indeed, Shavit’s exaltation of Israelis’ ingenuity, innovativeness, and resilience begs a pressing question he never poses, let alone answers: To what extent, if any, do Israel’s virtues mitigate its oppression of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and its discrimination against Palestinian citizens of the Jewish state?

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

The Economist

Good
on Dec 14 2013

...Mr Shavit speaks to those outside Israel who condemn it as cruel and arrogant. As this book shows, that is a tragic misreading of a nation.

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph... | See more reviews from The Economist

South China Morning Post

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Dec 22 2013

My Promised Land shifts into higher gear in its middle sections, with the claiming of the Masada fortress in the 1940s as a symbol for Zionism, and with the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph...

Jewish Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by MICHAEL BERENBAUM on Dec 23 2013

Ari Shavit’s new book, “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel,” is a tour de force. Written in lyrical prose by a distinguished journalist who listens attentively when he interviews, Shavit engages his subjects and also the land of Israel...

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph...

Politico

Excellent
on Dec 02 2013

The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph...

Everyday eBook

Good
Reviewed by Abigail Pollak on Dec 27 2013

Written in elegant, elegiac, almost Biblical prose, Shavit’s unfailingly compassionate narrative teems with the oral histories of unforgettable characters and remains respectful...

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph...

Tiny Library

Excellent
Reviewed by Sam on Dec 17 2013

It doesn't attempt to reduce a complex political situation to a black and white interpretation, rather it exposes how complicated it is and highlights all of the shades of grey.

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph...

Ruthfully Yours

Good
Reviewed by Ruth King on Nov 09 2013

The result is roughly equal parts personal and family memoir, Israeli history, and prophecies for the land’s future. It is one of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years.

Read Full Review of My Promised Land: The Triumph...

Reader Rating for My Promised Land
87%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1718 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×