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Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, has written twelve books, including the New York Times best seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. Some of his other books include “Death of the Liberal Class”...

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Books on the Middle East

This booklist includes The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust by Tom Segev, A History of Modern Palestine : One Land, Two Peoples, by Ilan Pappe, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land by David K. Shipler and others

 

Books on the Middle East

The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust

By Tom Segev

This controversial and powerful history is the first to show the decisive impact of the Holocaust on the identity, ideology, and politics of Israel. Drawing on diaries, interviews, and thousands of declassified documents, Tom Segev reconsiders the major struggles and personalities of Israel’s past-Ben-Gurion, Begin, Nahum Goldmann-and argues that the nation’s charged legacy has, at critical moments-the Exodus affair, the Eichmann trial, the case of John Demjanjuk-been molded and manipulated in accordance with the ideological requirements of the state.

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Books on the Middle East

A History of Modern Palestine : One Land, Two Peoples

By Ilan Pappe

Ilan Pappe’s book is the story of Palestine, a land inhabited by two peoples, and two national identities. It begins with the Ottomans in the early 1800s, the reign of Muhammad Ali, and traces a path through the arrival of the early Zionists at the end of that century, through the British mandate at the beginning of the twentieth century, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, and the subsequent wars and conflicts which culminated in the intifadas of 1987 and 2000.

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Books on the Middle East

Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land

By David K. Shipler

The Jew, according to the Arab stereotype, is a brutal, violent coward; the Arab, to the prejudiced Jew, is a primitive creature of animal vengeance and cruel desires. In this monumental work, revised and more relevant than ever, David Shipler delves into the origins of the prejudices that have been intensified by war, terrorism, nationalism, and the failure of the peace process.

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Books on the Middle East

The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949

By Benny Morris (Author), Roger Owen (Editor), Edmund Burke (Editor), Michael C. Hudson (Editor), Walid Kazziha (Editor), Rashid Khalidi (Editor), Serif Mardin (Editor)


This book is the first full-length study of the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem. Based on recently declassified Israeli, British and American state and party political papers and on hitherto untapped private papers, it traces the stages of the 1947-9 exodus against the backdrop of the first Arab-Israeli war and analyses the varied causes of the flight. The Jewish and Arab decision-making involved, on national and local levels, military and political, is described and explained, as is the crystallisation of Israel’s decision to bar a refugee repatriation.

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Books on the Middle East

The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East

By David Hirst


More than a decade before Israel’s New Historians revolutionized the study of Israeli history, English journalist David Hirst wrote The Gun and the Olive Branch, a classic, myth-breaking general history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hirst, former Middle East correspondent of the Guardian, traces the origins of the terrible conflict back to the 1880s to show how Arab violence, although often cruel and fanatical, is a response to the challenge of repeated aggression.

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Books on the Middle East

The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World

By Avi Shlaim


As it celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, the State of Israel could count many important successes, but its conflict with the Palestinians and the Arab world at large casts a long shadow over its history. What was promulgated as an “iron-wall” strategy—dealing with the Arabs from a position of unassailable strength—was meant to yield to a further stage where Israel would be strong enough to negotiate a satisfactory peace with its neighbors. The goal remains elusive. In this penetrating study, Avi Shlaim examines how variations of the iron-wall philosophy have guided Israel’s leaders; he finds that, while the strategy has been successful, opportunities have been lost to progress from military security to broader peace.

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Books on the Middle East

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate

By Tom Segev


Drawing on untapped archival materials, Tom Segev reconstructs an era (1917 to 1948) of limitless possibilities and tragic missteps. He introduces an array unforgettable characters, tracks the steady advance of Jews and Arabs toward confrontation, and puts forth a radical new argument: that the British, far from being pro-Arab, consistently favored the Zionist position, out of the mistaken—and anti-Semitic—belief that Jews turned the wheels of history. Rich in historical detail, sensitive to all perspectives, One Palestine, Complete brilliantly depicts the decline of an empire, the birth of one nation, and the tragedy of another.

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Books on the Middle East

Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001

By Benny Morris

Tracing the roots of political Zionism back to the pogroms of Russia and the Dreyfus Affair, Morris describes the gradual influx of Jewish settlers into Palestine and the impact they had on the Arab population. Following the Holocaust, the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel, but it also shattered Palestinian Arab society and gave rise to a massive refugee problem. Morris offers distinctive accounts of each of the subsequent Israeli-Arab wars and details the sporadic peace efforts in between, culminating in the peace process initiated by the Rabin Government.

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Books on the Middle East

1949: The First Israelis

By Tom Segev


Segev reveals the lofty aspirations that guided the state’s leaders as well as the darker side of the Zionist utopia: the friction between the early settlers and the immigrants, the lack of good-faith negotiations with the Arabs; the clash between religious and secular factions; the daily collision of the Zionist myth with the severe realities of life in the new state. Unflinching in its observations, this bold chronicle is indispensible for understanding the dilemmas that continue to confront—and divide—Israeli society.

...
Books on the Middle East

The Founding Myths of Israel

By Zeev Sternhell


The well-known historian and political scientist Zeev Sternhell here advances a radically new interpretation of the founding of modern Israel. The founders claimed that they intended to create both a landed state for the Jewish people and a socialist society. However, according to Sternhell, socialism served the leaders of the influential labor movement more as a rhetorical resource for the legitimation of the national project of establishing a Jewish state than as a blueprint for a just society. In this thought-provoking book, Sternhell demonstrates how socialist principles were consistently subverted in practice by the nationalist goals to which socialist Zionism was committed.

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Books on the Middle East

The Invention and Decline of Israeliness: State, Society, and the Military

By Baruch Kimmerling


This thought-provoking book, the first of its kind in the English language, reexamines the fifty-year-old nation of Israel in terms of its origins as a haven for a persecuted people and its evolution into a multi- cultural society. Arguing that the mono-cultural regime built during the 1950s is over, Baruch Kimmerling suggests that the Israeli state has divided into seven major cultures. These seven groups, he contends, have been challenging one other for control over resource distribution and the identity of the polity. Kimmerling, one of the most prominent social scientists and political analysts of Israel today, relies on a large body of sociological work on the state, civil society, and ethnicity to present an overview of the construction and deconstruction of the secular-Zionist national identity. He shows how Israeliness is becoming a prefix for other identities as well as a legal and political concept of citizen rights granted by the state, though not necessarily equally to different segments of society.

...
Books on the Middle East

Palestine

By Joe Sacco


Based on several months of research and an extended visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s (where he conducted over 100 interviews with Palestinians and Jews), Palestine was the first major comics work of political and historical nonfiction by Sacco, who has often been called the first comic book journalist.

...
Books on the Middle East

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

By Norman G. Finkelstein


This polemical study systematically undermines the popular and scholarly representations of the Israel- Palestine conflict. Opening with a theoretical discussion of Zionism and its roots, Norman Finkelstein goes on to look at the demographic origins of the Palestinians, referencing the work of Joan Peters and critiquing the influential studies of both Benny Morris and Anita Shapira, and closes by demonstrating that the casting of Israel as the innocent victim of Arab aggression in the June 1967 and October 1973 wars is not supported by the documentary record.

...
Books on the Middle East

Drinking the Sea at Gaza : Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege

By Amira Hass


Drinking the Sea at Gaza maps the zones of ordinary Palestinian life. From her friends, Hass learns the secrets of slipping across sealed borders and stealing through night streets emptied by curfews. She shares Gaza’s early euphoria over the peace process and its subsequent despair as hope gives way to unrelenting hardship. But even as Hass charts the griefs and humiliations of the Palestinians, she offers a remarkable portrait of a people not brutalized but eloquent, spiritually resilient, bleakly funny, and morally courageous.

...
Books on the Middle East

Orientalism

By Edward W. Said


Said’s groundbreaking work meticulously examines the way in which the West observes the Arabs. Foreign Affairs magazine commented: “Few books on the Middle East have aroused more controversy than this dazzling attack on traditional scholarship. Said is relentless in exposing the hidden, and not-so-hidden, agendas and assumptions of many Western scholars who have written about the Middle East. He brings to the task of deconstructing the arguments of self-described “Orientalists” the tools of the literary critic—and he takes no prisoners.”

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