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To Jerusalem and Back (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – May 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Bellow evokes places, ideas, people…on the edge of history, an inch from disaster, yet brimming with argument and words…. An impassioned and thoughtful book.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Essentially a plea for a greater understanding of the state of Israel by one of its most articulate admirers.” –The Times

About the Author

SAUL BELLOW (1915-2005), author of numerous novels, novellas, and stories, was the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards. He also received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, he served as a war correspondent for Newsday. He taught at New York University, Princeton, and the University of Minnesota and served as chairman of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141180757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141180755
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Saul Bellow won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel HUMBOLDT'S GIFT in 1975, and in 1976 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 'for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work.' He is the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards, for THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH, HERZOG, and MR. SAMMLER'S PLANET

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Inna Tysoe VINE VOICE on August 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
How can one describe this classic book on Israel? At one level it is a personal account of one American writer's journey to Israel and England and back but scratch beneath the surface and you see the incredible panoply of faces and voices that is Israel. Here is A.B. Yehoshoua who writes "that because our spiritual life ... cannot revolve around anything but [political questions], you cannot spare yourself, spiritually, for other things." Here is a bomb going off in London just as it recently did in Israel. And here is Saul Bellow mourning the "six young [British] people" who were murdered while simultaneously noting that "the difference is that when a bomb goes off in a West End restaurant the fundamental right of England to exist is not in dispute."
Here is Abu Zuluf, editor of El Kuds whose automobile terrorists have blown up because he is trying to follow what Saul Bellow feels is a "line of conciliation and peace."
Here is the Greek quarter in Jerusalem covered in grapevine; there is the Jewish quarter where the principal relic is the ben-Zakkai synagogue, blown up by the Jordanians when they took over in 1948 and as Saul Bellow walks toward it he hears, somewhere, as Arab boys are racing their donkeys down a hill.
Here is a Yemenite synagogue; there a Souk, the public market. And everywhere there is a profusion of communities: Arabs, Jews from Arab lands, Asian lands, Europe, Africa, Christians, Kurds, Hindus.... Everywhere a cacophony of voices; everywhere people mingling, arguing, making peace, making war, while philosophers philosophize and writers write.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Bellow came to Jerusalem as celebrated novelist . Every door was open to him , and he met with Israelis from all walks of life. He writes an essentially sympathetic and understanding account of Israel and its special situation. He knows the score in terms of the Jewish past, the great sufferings many of the survivors living in Israel have gone through. He understands the constant threat from their Arab neighbors under which Israel lives. But he tries to see the situation too with sympathy for the Arab side. His basic line politically is of the left, and he clearly favors political compromise.

The book does provide a pretty fair picture of Israeli society. But it is possible to quarrel with Bellow's basic orientation which is that of a Diaspora Jew who does not feel any call to Aliyah to Israel, and does not have much understanding or sympathy for a good share of its population, the religious.

All in all though this is an insightful look into Israeli society by a commentator of great intelligence and literary skill.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on November 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
To Jerusalem and Back chronicles Saul Bellow's trip to Israel in the mid-70s. As such, it is a time capsule of that time and place. Palestinian groups are still Marxist-Leninist. There is almost no stirring of the Islamic revolution to come. Rabin is the Prime Minister during his first term; Egypt and Israel have just reached the interim agreement that would later become the Camp David accords. The tone of this work is dark, pessimistic. Bellow believed the conflict would go on as it was for generations. In a sense he was right, but in another quite wrong. For this book also shows the progress that has been made since the mid-70s. Israel has signed peace agreements with both Egypt and Jordan. It is an economic powerhouse with a stable economy,high tech jobs, universal health care. Israel still fears for its existence, but it is a more illusory fear than at the time of this book. It is less existential and fundamental. It is more about style than outcome. So in this very narrow sense, To Jerusalem and Back is an interesting work to read in light of later developments.
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To Jerusalem and Back (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
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