My Promised Land

My Promised Land Summary


Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.
We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.

As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.

Praise for My Promised Land

“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama,Financial Times
“[A] must-read book.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
“Important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review
“Spellbinding . . . Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”—The Economist
“One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years.”—The Wall Street Journal

Book Reviews

Runner 30:02

My Promised Land5 star

The most balanced account of the history of Israel. It opened my eyes and ears to issues and events I wasn't aware of. But ultimately made me proud to be a supporter of Israel.55


One of the best in it's genre.5 star

Candid, insightful, daring, opinionated. Traits many would ascribe to the stereotypic Israeli Sabra. So is Shavit's account in "The Promised Land". In spite of being a personal perspective on a complex subject, the book relies on data that many holding opposing views could agree with it's message. A must-read for all those interested in events evolving between Israelis and Palestinians. The book reads easily and the content illuminates many of the dark corners in the conflict.55


My Promised Land by Ary Shavit5 star

A remarkable open and informative piece of work. Shavit held my interest and opened my eyes to alternative perspectives often slanted either as pro or con Israel. I admire his grasp of his own views balanced with those who oppose today’s quagmire of politics and special interest groups. He has achieved a well written story that should be read by every vested interest in the Middle East.55

Andy 5 stars

Great reporting authentic,honest analysis poetic,visionary finale!,5 star

Must read55


My Promised Land5 star

A well written/researched book on the complex political history of the State of Israel. A must read for anyone with an interest in middle east politics and history.55


My Promised Land5 star

An outstanding journey into the life of a new nation from its very beginning through the eyes of a brilliant and sensitive writer...a great read for anyone wanting to understand some of the complex events taking place in the Middle East.55


Wonderful5 star

A must read for anyone interested in the rich and complex tapestry that is Israel and its history.55


My promised land5 star

An incredibly well researched narrative spanning Israel's formative years through the very recent days. Though some left leaning spinning is evidently woven in, the reader travels through the personal stories of interviewees of Israel's extremely unique experience. A fascinating story extremely well told. A fast read and a real page turner. A must read!55


Mixed emotions5 star

I loved this book! I hated this book! This book made me extremely proud of my Jewish heritage! This book made me morally ashamed! This book filled me with joy and hope! This book made me extremely sad and quite despondent! This book made me love Israel more than ever! This book made me detest much of what Israel stands for! This book made me hopeful for Israel's future! This book made me fearful of its demise! This book instilled in me a new respect for Arabs and Palestinians! This book made me fear them more! This book made me more proud of my country the USA. This book increased my concern and detest of many of its policies and directions! Everyone should read this book! I loved this book! Jerry Chervitz St. Louis, Missouri USA55


A must read5 star

A well thought out, eyes-open, emotionally honest, deeply insightful and ultimately very moving portrayal of Israel. An excellent antidote to ignorance and cliché. One of the best, most powerful books on Israel I have ever read.55

Other Books by Ari Shavit

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