We asked our specialists to tell us what books about Israel are on their reading lists. Here’s what they told us:
The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years by Bernard Lewis
In a sweeping and vivid survey, renowned historian Bernard Lewis charts the history of the Middle East over the last 2,000 years, from the birth of Christianity through the modern era, focusing on the successive transformations that have shaped it. Elegantly written, scholarly yet accessible, The Middle East is the most comprehensive single volume history of the region ever written from the world’s foremost authority on the Middle East.
The Source by James A. Michener
In the grand storytelling style that is his signature, James Michener sweeps us back through time to the very beginnings of the Jewish faith, thousands of years ago. Through the predecessors of four modern men and women, we experience the entire colorful history of the Jews, including the life of the early Hebrews and their persecutions, the impact of Christianity, the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition, all the way to the founding of present-day Israel and the Middle-East conflict.
From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman
One of the most thought-provoking books ever written about the Middle East, From Beirut to Jerusalem remains vital to our understanding of this complex and volatile region of the world. Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman drew upon his ten years of experience reporting from Lebanon and Israel to write this now-classic work of journalism.
The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk
A sweeping and dramatic history of the last half century of conflict in the Middle East from an award-winning journalist who has covered the region for over thirty years, The Great War for Civilization unflinchingly chronicles the tragedy of the region from the Algerian Civil War to the Iranian Revolution; from the American hostage crisis in Beirut to the Iran-Iraq War; from the 1991 Gulf War to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Jewish War by Josephus
Josephus’ account of a war marked by treachery and atrocity is a superbly detailed and evocative record of the Jewish rebellion against Rome between AD 66 and 70. Originally a rebel leader, Josephus changed sides after he was captured to become a Rome-appointed negotiator, and so was uniquely placed to observe these turbulent events, from the siege of Jerusalem to the final heroic resistance and mass suicides at Masada. His account provides much of what we know about the history of the Jews under Roman rule, with vivid portraits of such key figures as the Emperor Vespasian and Herod the Great.
The Earthly Jerusalem by Norman Kotker
Jerusalem’s centuries-long significance as a religious center is emphasized in an objective, well-written history that covers 5,000 years but gives far more space to the past than present.
Jerusalem: City of Mirrors by Amos Elon
A portrait of Jerusalem which gives an insight into the kaleidoscopic culture of this magical city. Battle-scarred from 4,000 years of violent conflict, the holy city is a sacred symbol of Judaism, Islam and Christianity and its religious wars of today reflect those of the past.
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
In 1867, Mark Twain and a group fellow Americans toured Europe and the Holy Land aboard a retired Civil War ship known as “Quaker City.” Throughout the journey, Twain kept a written record of his experiences. The Innocents Abroad is both a travelogue and a critique of clashing cultures—but more importantly, it is an entertaining and insightful work written by one of the great masters of American prose.
My Michael by Amos Oz
Set in 1950s Jerusalem, My Michael is the story of a remote and intense woman named Hannah Gonen and her marriage to a decent but unremarkable man named Michael. As the years pass and Hannah’s tempestuous fantasy life encroaches upon reality, she feels increasingly estranged from him and the marriage gradually disintegrates. Gorgeously written, profoundly moving, this extraordinary novel is at once a haunting love story, and a rich reflective portrait of a place.