Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel

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Mark Andrew LeVine, Gershon Shafir
University of California Press, 2012 - History - 459 pages
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"This wonderful volume illuminates the human dimensions of the complex and often painful history of modern Palestine/Israel by vividly relating the life stories of a variety of individuals and exploring how their experiences have been profoundly shaped by the recurrent struggles over this land. It highlights the importance of human agency in shaping history, but also the impact of historical events and processes on individuals' life choices. This book is not only a valuable resource for teaching but is also of great value to anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in the perspectives and destinies of those who have lived in its shadows."--Zachary Lockman, New York University.

"This book is a welcome and essential addition to the extensive literature on the conflict in Israel/Palestine that tends to overlook the individual and their personal experiences. It is through these personal stories that one best appreciates the complex realities of this land. Each of the powerful narratives chosen by the contributors to this valuable volume is like a microcosmos that teaches us about the diverse realities in Israel and Palestine as a whole. This is a refreshing and original contribution to a field of inquiry that is craving for such a novel approach."--Ilan Pappé, author of The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty

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I find some of these accounts (and indeed many other accounts on similar subjects by other authors generally) difficult to reconcile with the actual state and conditions prevailing in Palestine 100 years ago. It is all very well to be sentimental or emotional about this period, but the fact remains that Palestine was then drenched in malaria, and was either uninhabitable in many areas or alternatively thinly populated. See and then re-read these accounts (and most other accounts of this period) with a sparsely populated background in mind - it will not seem quite the same second time around in the cold light of day. It will require a little bit of honesty, and it will be necessary to work hard to introduce a touch of reality to an area, Palestine, which was in fact then a little backwater upon which so many offer such colourful or controversial opinions. 

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About the author (2012)

Mark LeVine is Professor of History at UC Irvine. He is the author of An Impossible Peace, Overthrowing Geography (UC Press, 2005) and Heavy Metal Islam. Gershon Shafir is Professor of Sociology at UC San Diego and Director of its Institution for International, Comparative and Area Studies. He is the author of Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, National Insecurity and Human Rights (UC Press) and Being Israeli, winner of MESA's Hourani Award.

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