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Fast Times in Palestine by [Olson, Pamela]
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Fast Times in Palestine Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 382 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Pamela Olson's insightful, sometimes shocking, but always deeply human account of the Palestinian reality should be read by anyone who wants to get beyond the myths and misconceptions around the Palestinian struggle. The effortless narrative is driven by encounters with ordinary, and sometimes extraordinary, people sometimes as confused as the rest of the world about their reality. But Olson is clear in laying out the stark truth of dispossession, oppression, and outright racism imposed on the Palestinians-insights all too lacking in news reports and political debate."
- Chris McGreal , The Guardian

"A moving, inspiring account of life in Palestine that's enormously informative yet reads like a novel!"
- Rebecca Vilkomerson , Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace

"It's love in the time of occupation as Pamela Olson . . . takes us on the emotional roller-coaster of her very personal experience of life in Ramallah. . . A charming book brimming with tension and tragedy, but also with the humor, warmth, everyday foibles and irrepressible hopes of a people determined to live free."
- Tony Karon , senior editor of TIME Magazine

"Part adventure story, part searing reportage, part love story, and wholly absorbing."
- Dr. Kenneth Ring , co-author of Letters from Palestine

"Pamela Olson leads the reader on an exciting, funny, at times heart-wrenching journey, carefully deciphering complex political and historical issues. Olson is a talented writer, intelligent and exceptional in her ability to convey both tragedy and hope, remaining morally grounded and refreshingly honest."
- Ramzy Baroud , author of My Father was a Freedom Fighter

"As an Israeli whose life was shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I found Fast Times in Palestine moving and refreshing. Pamela Olson comes to the Middle East with a blank slate and is therefore able to hold up an undistorted mirror to the reality she encounters."
- Miko Peled , author of The General's Son

"Harrowing, funny, vivid, entertaining and deeply humane, Fast Times in Palestine opens a rare window into Palestinian life. It's impossible not to be moved on nearly every page by Pamela Olson's account of the plight of a stateless people struggling to live with dignity under a mind-boggling 48-year military occupation. Yet Olson also shows us the warmth of a people who, despite their circumstances, display a 'preternatural friendliness and curiosity' in an 'enviable place to call home.' Read this book; it will change everything about the way you see the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians."
- Sandy Tolan , author of The Lemon Tree

"This is a story by a very smart and fundamentally decent woman who visits Palestine for the first time knowing little about what she will encounter there. Of course, she learns quickly about the horrors of the Israeli occupation and what it means for the local Palestinians. Fast Times in Palestine is Pamela Olson's attempt to describe the indignities and brutality of Palestinian daily life, and try to make sense of it all. What makes her story so compelling is that she tells it in an honest and straightforward way, not by relying on hot rhetoric. For anyone who wants to learn the truth about life under Israeli occupation, this book is a superb starting point."
- John J. Mearsheimer , author of Why Leaders Lie

'... the strength of the narrative lies in Olson's investigation of the personal and mental effects of oppression and war on herself and her newfound friends... Where paradox is as common as breathing, Olson discovers a kind of freedom amid the barbed wire. An empathetic, intriguing memoir.' -Kirkus Reviews

"More than a travelogue or a polemic, the book is a coming-of-age story, as Olson discovers her voice by directly confronting the challenges of living in a state of institutionalized paradox... Engaging and easy to read, this is a fascinating memoir." -Publishers Weekly

"An ultimately heartwarming story about an American who learned to love a country and a people despite the trauma of the brutal, decades-old conflict she witnesses occurring around her." -Library Journal
"

Product Description

Pamela Olson, a small town girl from eastern Oklahoma, had what she always wanted: a physics degree from Stanford University. But instead of feeling excited for what came next, she felt consumed by dread and confusion. This irresistible memoir chronicles her journey from aimless ex-bartender to Ramallah-based journalist and foreign press coordinator for a Palestinian presidential candidate.

With dizzying speed she finds herself attending Yasser Arafat's funeral, sharing a holiday dinner with a suicide bomber's family, tour-guiding Israeli friends around the West Bank, dating a Palestinian from a conservative Muslim village, being held at gunpoint and injured by a stun grenade, and witnessing the 2005 Disengagement from inside the Gaza Strip.

The gripping narrative focuses not only on violence, terror, and social and political upheavals but also on the daily rounds of house parties, concerts, barbecues, weddings, jokes, harvests, and romantic drama that happen in between. From idyllic olive groves to Palestinian beer gardens, from Passover in Tel Aviv to Ramadan in a Hamas village, from rooftop parties in Ramallah to militant rallies in Nablus, the book is packed with suspense, humor, and unforgettable characters. Its seamless blend of travelogue, memoir, and narrative journalism ramps the average American up to a sophisticated, multi-faceted understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Funny, gorgeous, shocking, and galvanizing, Fast Times in Palestine challenges the way we think not only about the Middle East but albout human nature and our place in the world.

REVIEWS

“A moving, inspiring account of life in Palestine that’s enormously informative yet reads like a novel.”

-- REBECCA VILKOMERSON, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace

“It’s love in the time of occupation as Pamela Olson... takes us on the emotional roller-coaster of her very personal experience of life in Ramallah -- and in doing so lays bare the human drama of a people... determined to live free.”

-- TONY KARON, Senior Editor, TIME Magazine

“Part adventure story, part searing reportage, part love story, and wholly absorbing.”

-- DR. KENNETH RING, co-author, Letters from Palestine

"Pamela Olson leads the reader on an exciting, funny, at times heart-wrenching journey, carefully deciphering complex political and historical issues. Olson is a talented writer, intelligent and exceptional in her ability to convey both tragedy and hope, remaining morally grounded and refreshingly honest."

-- RAMZY BAROUD, Author, My Father was a Freedom Fighter

"As an Israeli whose life was shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I found Fast Times in Palestine moving and refreshing. Pamela Olson comes to the Middle East with a blank slate and is therefore able to hold up an undistorted mirror to the reality she encounters."

-- MIKO PELED, Author, The General’s Son

For more reviews, excerpts, and information, visit www.pamolson.org

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1689 KB
  • Print Length: 382 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Mason Hill Press (May 15 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00513NHNI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #329,086 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
Pamela Olson's memoir of the time she spent living in Palestine is absolutely essential reading as both a travelogue and an account of the lives people in the occupied Palestinian territories are leading. It's very even-handed in it's treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and, although entirely unpretentious and very accessible, beautifully written. It's sure to be enjoyed by all, especially fans of Michelle Cohen Corasanti's The Almond Tree.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the intriguing and riveting story of a young American woman from Oklahoma and her two year adventure living, volunteering, and working in Palestine.
She started on a backpacking trip during a time when she was questioning her beliefs and taking time from her university studies.
She decided to travel in the mid east intending, for reasons of cost, to omit Palestine and Israel.
Through chance meetings with and Israeli and a Palestinian on the Red Sea coast, she ended up in Palestine, where she introduced her Russian-Israeli to a Palestinian who spoke Russian, having been studying medicine in Russia.
She writes very well and her description of the hospitality of the Palestinians she met and lived with, and of their life under occupation is fascinating and eye-opening. I've since bought copies for several of my friends... who are similarly impressed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fast Times in Palestine is an honest and balanced account of a situation many North Americans would be shocked to find they know nothing about. It is a fascinating read, at times hilarious, at times heart-breaking but mostly it informs the reader of what is really going on in the land once known as Palestine. Pamela Olson corrects our misconceptions in recounting her day-to-day encounters with both Palestinians and Israelis. Her book is an antidote to the daily bombardment of manufactured "news" designed to shape our opinions about the peoples living in the region we broadly refer to as the Middle East.
This book should be required reading for anyone in a position to direct policy and to make decisions vis-à-vis Israel and the surrounding nations.
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An eloquent, emotionally gripping, and most enlightening trip. I didn't realize how much I didn't know, (only thought I knew on the subject), until I read this book. Nothing surprises about the disturbing reality of trying to have a life in Gaza; but, for me, the-day-to-day reality for the Palestinians living in the West Bank is a revelation. This is truly the kind of writing/reading experience that can make a difference. Perhaps, change minds; even change the lives of all whom it touches, for the better.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa3c7bb70) out of 5 stars 186 reviews
75 of 80 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa427739c) out of 5 stars One of the best and most important books I've ever read Feb. 21 2013
By Adara - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Before I read this book, I didn't have a stance on the conflict because I didn't know enough. My family is Jewish and very pro-Israel, but I am agnostic and I try not to form opinions without facts, so I have always taken everything they say with a grain of salt. "The Palestinians don't want a state. They don't want peace. They won't be happy until every Jew on the face of the Earth is dead." This is what I grew up with.

But this book opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed: the world of occupied Palestine. I consider myself very aware politically, so it's hard to believe the truth has eluded me for so many years. Never underestimate the power of the media, I guess. I get my information from a decent variety of sources, but when all those sources are deliberately hiding so much information, how is a person supposed to know any better? The media portrays Palestine as the aggressor in the conflict, and speaks of the government as if it represents the feelings of the general population. What I really appreciate about this book is not just that the author tells the other side of the story, but that she makes a point of separating the government and the people.

It is too easy to generalize, and I could see a person reading this book and turning their hatred toward Israel as a whole if the author had not taken such extreme care to depict every person she encountered as a human being. Yes, Israel is the oppressor and Palestine is the oppressed, but to leave it at that is black-and-white thinking. Citizens of Israel aren't anymore aware of the treatment of Palestinians than American citizens are of the treatment of Iraqis. I especially appreciated this author's reference to Dr. Philip Zimbardo's prison experiment, and the "power of the situation." Even the soldiers committing atrocities at checkpoints are real people. It is only through the dehumanization of people that mass acts of evil are possible.

I bought this book with the hope of learning about Palestinian culture and writing a good paper for school, and what I got out of it was so much more. I believe it should be required reading in schools, and I'm encouraging everyone I know to read it.
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa42771ec) out of 5 stars Gripping, Moving, and Above All Educational June 13 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I mentioned this book to a friend of mine, and their response was they would give it a read, "to see how balanced it was." I don't know about balanced; the author was living in Palestine. Fair, however, it is. It is what she experienced, the good, the bad, the ugly. She walked in with the same ideas most Westerners have, but was willing to learn and realize that much of what gets reported is at best an exaggeration and at worst blatantly false. This book simply reports the truth as she experienced it, with reports and articles and citations from sources in Israel and from around the world to back up her claims.

She doesn't hate Israel or Jews or Palestine or Muslims, but she sure didn't like being hit in the leg with a grenade at a peaceful protest or almost getting shot by a 19-year-old with a machine gun because she was in a car at night with Arabs. Nor did she like being afraid of suicide bombers at cafes in Israel or how the corrupt Palestinian government cared about nothing besides cronyism and lining their own pockets or how the political fragmentation creates problem upon problem for the peace process.

It's not about talking points or winning points for either side. It's about the people she met and the experiences she had, the good in all people and what it all means. The Palestinians get painted as religious nut jobs in the media over here, nothing but Hamas blowing people up with suicide bombers and home-made rockets, but that's like the rest of the world only seeing Americans as belonging to the Westborough Baptist Church.

I've been hearing stories about Palestine for years, and this book still touched a deep nerve. I thought I had grown a little numb, blase, sure, sure, there's an occupation. People are dying all over the world, that sucks. But this puts a human face on a really terrible situation that is perpetuated by a few crazies in power but severely and negatively affects millions in both nations. Unfortunately, only one nation ever gets its story told. This gives a voice to the other side of the occupation, the voice that until now has had a strangle hold over its mouth and a master ventriloquist in control.
56 of 65 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa46dd930) out of 5 stars A new view... May 16 2011
By H. Starr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a deeply personal story about a decent and intelligent, if initially uninformed and sheltered, American who gets swept off her feet by the beauty and wonder of Palestine and the people who live there. Her love for the people and the place shine on every page. And when you love someone, it hurts to see them bullied, humiliated and marginalized. It hurts to see a land you love carved into unnatural pieces by a concrete wall or lives you treasure ripped apart by machine gun fire or a suicide bomber. This book isn't about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it's an intense, first person narrative about the beauty and danger of life in Palestine.

But what I think most readers will come away with is the belief that underneath the ugliness of the occupation and the intifada there is something that is beautiful and absolutely worth protecting. And in the small acts where Israelis and Palestinians work together, the author shows you a future that we must insist upon: where Palestinians and Israelis have equal measures of peace, freedom, political power, and access to resources. If the world fails to make this a reality, this book shows you just how very much we all have to lose.
39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4138df8) out of 5 stars An "accidental tourist" tells a first hand experience Feb. 22 2013
By Raanan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Olson has a very important story to tell, and she does so from the very unique "accidental tourist" perspective. It is a very well written piece that documents (mostly) Palestinian daily life through her personal experiences, as well as explaining some past events (which is a potential mine field as in this Israeli-Palestinian conflict the "past" can often be a more divisive and controversial issue then discussing the present or even possible solutions).

I should mention that I am an Israeli. Reading this book wasn't always easy and I didn't always agree with what Olson had to say. Nevertheless, I think she does an important job by holding a mirror to our face and telling us what the occupation means for the Palestinians. And by doing so she actually helps both sides to get a better understanding of the other.

No doubt some so-called "pro Israel" folks will scream against this book. After all it is critical of actions and policies Israel made over the years. Unfortunately many of those actions were made possible because "friends" provided Israel with the monetary and political support to implement them. True friends can also tell you when you're doing wrong, and stop you from causing disasters to yourself and others.
57 of 67 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4139704) out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book July 26 2011
By Adara - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before I read this book, I didn't have a stance on the conflict because I didn't know enough. My family is Jewish and very pro-Israel, but I am agnostic and I try not to form opinions without facts, so I have always taken everything they say with a grain of salt. "The Palestinians don't want a state. They don't want peace. They won't be happy until every Jew on the face of the Earth is dead." This is what I grew up with.

But this book opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed: the world of occupied Palestine. I consider myself very aware politically, so it's hard to believe the truth has eluded me for so many years. Never underestimate the power of the media, I guess. I get my information from a decent variety of sources, but when all those sources are deliberately hiding so much information, how is a person supposed to know any better? The media portrays Palestine as the aggressor in the conflict, and speaks of the government as if it represents the feelings of the general population.

What I really appreciate about this book is not just that the author tells the other side of the story, but that she makes a point of separating the government and the people. It is too easy to generalize, and I could see a person reading this book and turning their hatred toward Israel as a whole if the author had not taken such extreme care to depict every person she encountered as a human being. Yes, Israel is the oppressor and Palestine is the oppressed, but to leave it at that is black-and-white thinking. Citizens of Israel aren't anymore aware of the treatment of Palestinians than American citizens are of the treatment of Iraqis. I especially appreciated this author's reference to Dr. Philip Zimbardo's prison experiment, and the "power of the situation." Even the soldiers committing atrocities at checkpoints are real people. It is only through the dehumanization of people that mass acts of evil are possible.

I bought this book with the hope of learning about Palestinian culture and writing a good paper for school, and what I got out of it was so much more. I believe it should be required reading in schools, and I'm encouraging everyone I know to read it.