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le 4 septembre 2003
I was excited about this book but in the end it disappointed me. It purports itself to be a jurnalistic account of the Lebanese Civil war and the Israeli situation in Jerusalem. Unfortunatly the book consists of half and half reporting and cute little stories. We learn about the bombing of the jurnalists own house and we learn about the newsrooms of Beirut. While we should celebrate the authors guts in covering these viscious times it seems to me the reading was light and weak. More a travel jurnal then what I expected. The book, like everything on Lebanon, is biased, it takes the side of the palistinians brushing over their savagry in ruining a nice country while critisizing the christians for daring to defend themselves. It critisizes the Israelis for 'indiscriminate' shelling and says nothing fo the palistinians indiscriminate shalling that also ruines lives. The chapters on Israel are insteresting as an American Jews critique of the Jewish state, but most of the observations are repugnant. This idea that israel is some vast memorial to the holocaust, some remnant, is a revulting notion and it seems one elucidated by the author, he does not seem to understand the greatness of israel as the only country where free speech and free religion exist in the middle east, as well as democracy.
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le 25 juillet 2002
I agree with other reviewers that Friedman has no axe to grind; is equitable in his criticism of the both the PLO and Israel (as well as other parties). This is probably the book's greatest strength. If you are expecting a wholehearted defense of Israel you won't find it here.
However I was disappointed with other aspects of the book. Unlike other reviewers, I do not find that Friedman writes well. Phrases like "Such were the cards that history had dealt him" (speaking about Arafat) reminded me of a reasearch paper written for a high-school history class. Friedman also recurs to anecdotes and metaphors that are at worst impertinent and at best disconcerting. He has the cutesy way of carrying the metaphor through; for example at one point he compares Isreali political parties to American advertising (in which distinctions are are energetically asserted between virtually identincal consumer products) and concludes that the Isreali political parties, despite their outward differences, were really serving up the same "puppy chow." Such a rhetorical device is amateurish and annoying. I expected greater depth of analysis and a more penetrating writing style. I learned a few things from the book, but was ultimately disappointed. I'm now going to read Charles Enderlin's _Le rêve brisé_ hoping that this French journalist will provide a deeper analysis.
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le 23 juillet 2002
To be direct,I expected much more from Friedman's highly acclaimed odyssey in the Middle East. The problem, in my estimate, is that the book NEVER rises above the level of "informed" journalism. If you want scholarship and depth read Bernard Lewis. An historical exploration like James McPherson's BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM...concerning our own Civil what I think readers anticipate when they take the journey from BEIRUT to JERUSALEM. It's not there. The portraits of Arafat and Sharon are interesting but impressed as superficial, of TIME magazine ilk. The "walk" through the bloody maze of Lebanon was high point of the book to me. Here was an illuminating gaze into the mess that's called THE ARAB Street with its Medieval tribalism and warlord politics.(A sign; a few goons with guns; duly constitutes the road block for extortion of bandit tribute in the name of the Thug-ocracy-of-the-day essayed). American politicians must not make the mistake they are dealing with POLITIES as we "understand" them, nor expect Israel to suffer(more)because of our leaders' misunderstandings. Mr. Friedman's evident ambivalence/confusion makes this point clearer than perhaps he realized( However,I haven't read the new edition).Again: to me the book was disappointing.If you want insightful grasp of what's going-on in the Middle East, read THE CLASH of CIVILIZATIONS: Remaking of the World Order, by Huntington. Freidman's book is introductory primer; good popular journalism at best...with all the limits this kind of writing implies and imposes on itself.(3 and 1/2 stars)
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le 16 septembre 1998
While Mr. Friedman is certainly a very prolific writer, his biased attitude towards the Israeli/Arab conflict clouds his critical thinking.
Mr. Friedman assigns Israel a majority of the blame for the Israeli/Palestinian delimna. After three hundred pages of this, (with the exception of a paragraph here or there), I was convinced I had been browbeaten.
Let us not forget that Israel is a small nation whose historical right to its homeland was recognized by international consensus. And now, she finds her legitimacy of that committment eroded and scorned by that same community which initially supported her. Why has the only democracy in the entire middle East been the focus of so much criticism? Friedman's book is very informative, and is historically accurate. But, so much of the writing leans to the left, to the anti-Israel, anti-zionism sentiment.
I recommend for balanced reading of Israel, the reader look at Benjamin Netanyahu's book A Place Among the Nations. While many persons might not agree with his politics, the book is an insightful piece of literature that explores history, political theory, and Palestinian Centrality.
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le 3 décembre 2002
This book grabbed me from the opening chapter and I really enjoyed the first third or so of the book. The study of the Lebanon situation in the ealry 80's makes this book worth reading overal.
However, the book really bogs down in the middle with in-depth analysis of the internal conflicts Israel faces as well as the external. In the end though, I was disappointed that he went through such painstaking detail in examining the conflict from the Isreali side, but there are no interviews or reports from the Palestinian perspective. I wouldn't call it biased, but rather over-examining from one perspective, deficient from the other.
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le 8 mars 2003
I'm sorry, but anyone who says this book is equally fair to both sides needs to be smacked. It is by far more pro-palestinian than pro-Israeli. Don't get me wrong, I think Friedman is an excellent writer and gives good arguments for the palestinian side. But if you're going to read this book, please also read the other side of the story. The complete Idiot's guide to the Middle East is good, and so is Myths and Facts, which can now be found ...So I suggest thisbook if you want the Palestinian perspective.
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le 18 février 2004
There is a strain of thought among journalists, to which Friedman unfortuantely succumbs, which says that one must at all costs be objective. While that practice is instructive and helpful when reporting in a newspaper (this is why Daniel Pearl's murder was so heinous) it is of little use in a memoir.
One wishes that Friedman would take a stand, on any person and any issue about which he writes. Unfortunately, that is not this book, so we are treated to vague, noncommittal descriptions of such heinous individuals as Arafat and Saddam Hussein. These are descriptions devoid of context or judgment. Friedman's resolute refusal to engage in the moral subtleties of the Middle East's contentious territorial fights is at once alarming and banal.
The principle of objectivity to which Friedman hews so closely is of limited use, and in a book like this, one hopes for more depth than the mere attempt to treat Palestinians as if they were Israelis, or to treat Kurds as if they were members of the Ba'ath party. In short, Friedman espouses the morally relativistic multiculturalism that has become de rigeur among intlelectual liberals in the United States: judge no one, offend no one, and surely, don't morally indict the violent actions of those whose actions may be 'justified' under the rubric of 'oppression.'
His is a venal and insidious view of the Middle East conflict because he refuses to judge, analyze, or critique its state of affairs. Rather, he merely wants to report. What a shame.
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