My Promised Land, The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit is a fascinating history of Israel. I feel like I learned so much. The author clearly loves Israel, but on the other hand he can recognize Israel’s problems and its flaws. I felt he was balanced in his approach. Shavit tells the story of the last 100 years in the land of Israel, weaving his own family story with that of the nation. We learn all about life before 1948 as well as life since 1948. We learn about the intense struggles of the Jews throughout their history. We learn about the key events of 1948, 1967 and 1973. We learn about life and culture today, both the good things and the bad things.
There are fascinating sections on Masada, on the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, on the Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank, and on the differences between the Oriental Jews and the Occidental Jews.
There is a sad and disappointing chapter on the sex and drug scene in Tel Aviv. Even sadder, perhaps, is the way that most of the nation seems to have forgotten their God.
This is an important book and worth reading for those who are interested in Israel. The following comments by serious students of Israel indicate its importance.
“This is the epic history that Israel deserves – beautifully written, dramatically rendered, full of moral complexity. Ari Shavit has made a storied career of explaining Israel to Israelis; now he shares his mind-blowing, trustworthy insights with the rest of us. It is the best book on the subject to arrive in many years.”
– Franklin Foer, editor, The New Republic
“A beautiful, mesmerizing, morally serious, and vexing book. I’ve been waiting most of my adult life for an Israeli to plumb the deepest mysteries of his country’s existence and share his discoveries, and Ari Shavit does so brilliantly, writing simultaneously like a poet and a prophet. My Promised Land is a remarkable achievement.”
– Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent, The Atlantic
“Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land is without question one of the most important books about Israel and Zionism that I have ever read. Both movingly inspiring and at times heartbreakingly painful, My Promised Land tells the story of the Jewish state as it has never been told before, capturing both the triumph and the torment of Israel’s experience and soul.”
– Daniel Gordis, author of Saving Israel and Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College, Jerusalem.
“With the heart of a storyteller and the mind of a historian, Ari Shavit has written a powerful and compelling book about the making of modern Israel. No country is more emotionally connected to the United States, and no country’s fate matters more to many Americans. And yet until Shavit’s My Promised Land, it has been growing more difficult to sense the character of Israel through all the caricatures. This book is vital reading for Americans who care about the future, not only of the United States but of the world.”
–Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power