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From Beirut to Jerusalem [Paperback]

Thomas L. Friedman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 15 1990
Winner of the 1989 National Book Award for nonfiction, this extraordinary bestseller is still the most incisive, thought-provoking book ever written about the Middle East. Thomas L. Friedman, twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, and now the Foreign Affairs columnist on the op-ed page of the New York Times, drew on his ten years in the Middle East to write a book that The Wall Street Journal called "a sparkling intellectual guidebook... an engrossing journey not to be missed." Now with a new chapter that brings the ever-changing history of the conflict in the Middle East up to date, this seminal historical work reaffirms both its timeliness and its timelessness. "If you're only going to read one book on the Middle East, this is it." -- Seymour Hersh. "From Beirut To Jerusalem is the most intelligent and comprehensive account one is likely to read." -- New York Times Book Review.

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From Publishers Weekly

"Friedman, who twice garnered the Pulitzer as a New York Times correspondent in Lebanon and Israel, further delineates the two countries in this provocative, absorbing memoir cum political and social analysis," commented PW. The work won the National Book Award.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

There have been any number of books that have worked hard at interpreting the melange called the Middle East. This one, however, makes a difference because it's so well written and captures the psychological mannerisms of the people of Lebanon and Israel--the first step to understanding some of the mysterious "why" that seems to elude the American public and government. Friedman's credentials are impressive: he spent six years of journalistic service for the New York Times in Beirut and Jerusalem, has won two Pulitzer prizes, and is now the Times 's chief diplomatic correspondent. His writing is vastly descriptive, incredibly illuminating, very educational, and marvelously persuasive. His advice to U.S. diplomats is that since "Middle East diplomacy is a contact sport," they must bargain as grocers, or, in other words, realize that everything has a price and the sale can always be made with enough hard work. This title is highly recommended for all libraries. See also Sandra Mackey's Lebanon: Death of a Nation , reviewed below.
- Ed. -- David P. Snider, Casa Grande P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
In June 1979, my wife, Ann, and I boarded a red-and-white Middle East Airlines 707 in Geneva for the four-hour flight to Beirut. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST introduction to the middle east June 19 2004
As one of the first books I read about Middle East, and its
conflicts, I RECOMMEND this book STRONGLY for everyone: those that
are new to the region, needing an introduction to the Middle East,
as well as those who want to refresh their knowledge of the region
and the various forms of conflict so common there.
The Middle East can be a confusing place but Friedman sorts it out
for you. FRIEDMAN IS SUCH A TERRIFIC WRITER he made me feel
confident in my new found knowledge, relieved to have his insight
as my foundation, and so wanting to learn more about the entire
I read "From Beirut to Jerusalem" for the first time just before
the first Gulf War; now it is my touchstone, reading parts, or
all of it, again when things over there get crazier.
While Friedman focuses on Lebanon and Israel in this book, he
really is providing you with an understanding of the whole
framework of the Middle East and its conflicts: between countries,
within countries, amongst religions, between peoples of different
ethnic, cultural or racial backgrounds.
Warring religious conflicts within Lebanon may remind you of the
religious tensions between the Sunnis of northern Iraq and the
Shi'ia of south. Syria's late Assad's massive killing of his own
people will immediately remind you of the murder by Saddam Huessin
of the Kurds in northern Iraq.
Even if Israel didn't exist, many of these conflicts would have
happened anyway...and will continue to happen.
Now the fastest growing portion of the Arab and Muslim populations
are the school-aged and young adults. Most have limited
educations and little in the way of meaningful employment to look
forward to.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An essential read... March 22 2007
As a journalist Mr Friedman is at its very best when he reports the historical facts, puts them in perspective and analyses them. And reporting the facts is what he does in the first part of this book, Beirut. This is the best part hands down. His analysis is profound, true, and it gives a singular and personal lighting of the civil war in Lebanon and the Israeli invasion.
However, Mr Friedman, as a sociologist, isn't nearly as good (or just maybe his analysis has lost its relevance in the 20-odd years since the book was first published). The Jerusalem part is far too convoluted and sometimes downright obscure in its multi-layered division of the Israeli society.
Also Mr Friedman is a very good writer with a wit all its own. But at times the metaphors he uses are too cute for their own good and the author spends far too much time (his and ours) justifying their pertinence. The book is an impressionist analysis, sort of a 600 pages op-ed supported by impressions, but short on statistical data.
Still a great and essential read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book June 12 2004
I grew up in Beirut; I found this book very insightful. I can say that this book pretty much reflects what really happened in Beirut. If you want an objective view, this book is a must read. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand more about what the real situation is like in Palestine and Israel; And what took place in Beirut.
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Navigating through the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is hard enough; but doing so whilst remaining neutral and objective is almost impossible. Yet this is precisely what "From Beirut to Jerusalem" does: it takes a very thorough and candid look at the recent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a fair and balanced view.
Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times, narrates his almost decade-long adventure of reporting the Middle East, first in Beirut and then in Jerusalem. The product is an elegant and well-written book that combines his journalistic attention to precision, detail, and anecdotes with his historian's drive for proving context, perspective, and analysis.
"From Beirut to Jerusalem" contains a great deal of adventure (who says reporters can't live James Bond-like lives?). But in the end, what makes this a great book is its ability to tell the story of the Middle East in the 1980s, while dissecting the important political and historical forces that define the geopolitical environment of the conflict. Written for the layman and expert alike, this is surely one of the best books on the Middle East.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Friedman, Exacting Taskmaster Sept. 26 2003
By A Customer
This is an informative, very well written book that imparts factual historical information and editorial opinion in an entertaining and engaging way.
I am told that Thomas Friedman is one of the most respected authorities on the Middle East, and that he is truthful, fair, and unbiased. However, I did notice one thing. Thomas Friedman is Jewish (as am I). His attitude toward the State of Israel is uncompromising, harsh, and judgmental. Women jurors are said to have this perspective toward women defendants. Some parents have that style toward their children: they expect their children to be perfect, and are harshly critical when they are not; they may not exact the same high standards of other people's children--they may see other people's children from the perspective that they are part of the human race, and therefore inclined to be flawed, and to err.
His criticisms of Israel's leadership post-Ben Gurion may be well founded, as may be his criticisms of Israel's actions and poor judgment calls as regards the Palestinians in some instances, but he does not seem to be able to temper these observances.
Perhaps, under Mr. Friedman's strict pedagogy, Israel can become a better country--maybe, unlike, say, Sweden, Israel can evolve into the very model of a modern major state, without having to go through the equivalent of that awkward, adolescent Viking period that the Swedes did? Maybe, as Mr. Friedman seems to demand, Israel will shortly be born, full blown, like Athena, into a country that always makes decisions that live up to the most exacting moral and ethical standards, while executing brilliant pragmatic political judgments. Who knows?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars i could not pass up the opportunity to say how much i enjoyed this...
i'm writing this at 6 a.m., so my brain is not fully awake. nevertheless, i could not pass up the opportunity to say how much i enjoyed this book, which, apart from everything... Read more
Published 26 days ago by salsa bandit
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic!
A must for anyone who wants to attempt to understand an area that is not easily understood. Friedman's firsthand experiences are exceptionally readable, and insightful. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Siggysan
5.0 out of 5 stars this book has all my recommendations
everybody should read this book. Is so interesting ( even wrote by a Jude ) and the writer knows what is taking about. His point of view, his way to describe, very cleaver. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Diego
5.0 out of 5 stars Most thorough description of the ongoing battle in the middle east
Most thorough description of the ongoing battle and confusion in the middle east - I learned the struggle that has been going on for centuries is still there. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Linda Stokes
1.0 out of 5 stars Rambo's analysis
No matter how "exciting" this book may be to read (and not to base our opinions upon), just like Hollywood's Rambo, where Stalone knows everything about his enemy and... Read more
Published on June 1 2004 by John Reed
1.0 out of 5 stars Irresponsible history - Should be able to give it no stars
I know this is a popular book. When I lecture on the Middle East, everyone seems to have read it. There are some good parts -- such as the author's description of his personal... Read more
Published on May 7 2004 by Arnold Irving
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
An interesting chronology and analysis of a journalist's decade long stay in Lebanon and Jerusalem. I learned a lot about the two countries and the issues that divide them. Read more
Published on April 10 2004 by J. Jacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars A Frightening Firsthand Of The Middle East Conflict
Both a personal memoir and treatise on the Middle Eastern conflict, From Beirut To Jerusalem manages to excel in both areas.
Thomas L. Read more
Published on March 27 2004 by David J. Gutowski
3.0 out of 5 stars objective reporting only gets you so far
There is a strain of thought among journalists, to which Friedman unfortuantely succumbs, which says that one must at all costs be objective. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by D. Friedman
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