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Prisoners: A muslim & a Jew across the Middle East Divide Unknown Binding – January 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Knopf, New York; 1ST edition (2006)
  • ASIN: B004LO10VE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

It's compelling and very very interesting.
Harold Talik
You always read about how people read a book in one sitting but it never happens to you.
Middle East Book Reader
Recommended for its social insight into the Israel/Arab conflict.
L. King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Linda H. on February 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Prisoners" is an engrossing book on many levels. It is a personal story about the author's evolution from an idealistic adolescent into a realistic, principled man, while simultaneously serving as a lucid chronicle of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Historical references abound, written clearly so that the reader does not need extensive background in order to understand complex issues. The writing is wonderful, with vivid scenes, memorable characters, and quite a bit of humor. The book begins in 2001, and after a suspenseful end to Chapter I, flashes back to the first Gulf war when the author, serving in the Israeli army, guarded Palestinians in an Israeli prison camp. The narrative moves seamlessly through time and across continents, detailing the tenuous friendship between the author and one of his former prisoners. I had to keep reading, and found the ending hopeful and very moving.

All in all, it is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is Mr. Goldberg's first book, and I hope he writes many more.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on April 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Self-categorized on the book jacket as "Current Affairs," this book had me expecting an analysis of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the word "prisoners" in the title no more than a metaphor. In fact, a large part of the book takes place in an actual prison, and while it has much to say about Israeli-Palestinian relations, it is more correctly a memoir of an American Jewish journalist attempting to understand the nature of the conflict that has prevailed in that part of the Middle East since 1948. Finding the political in the personal, he tells of his own beginnings as a youthful Zionist living on Long Island and his years in Israel as his ideals are put to the test working on a kibbutz and then serving in the military police at a desert prison, where he first meets and attempts to befriend a Palestinian prisoner, Rafiq.

Later, working as a journalist based first in Jerusalem and then in Washington DC, the author travels often to Gaza and the West Bank to talk with Palestinians, many of them released prisoners, including his friend Rafiq. His conversations with Rafiq become a commentary on an accompanying account of the interlude of hope for resolution in the Oslo talks, the eventual collapse of the peace process, and the rise of suicide bombings. On both levels, it is a search for common ground that is as elusive as peace itself. The author clings to the hope that where friendship is possible between two men who cannot agree on anything else, coexistence is possible between Arabs and Jews.

This is a well written book that immerses the reader in the deeply bitter and violent conflict that has raged in this corner of the world for decades.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By mbrandi on June 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
not only is this book deeply personal to the author but also to this reader.He put into the words that I never could the feeling that I have for Israel and the Jewish People.He explains Zionism for what it really is and means and not for what the pc crowd has twisted it to be.

Having also had dialogue with a muslim that I called friend for over more than 40 years I can attest to the great divide between us.it is hard for most people to understand that different cultures do not think alike regardless of what facts are presented.

other readers have found hope in this book which I am afraid I do not share.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LeopardBay on November 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Jeffrey Goldbergs' deep personal reflections about his experiences as a soldier in the IDF and his impossible friendship with one Palestinian prisoner he guarded provide lessons about religion, politics, redemption and one person's willingness to always believe in the possible. Despite their differences and the circumstances that brought them together, a friendship was forged that defied all expectations and reason. Goldberg shares his ambivalence, doubts and hopes with a poingiency and pathos the jumps off the page, grabs the reader by the shoulders and doesn't let go until the last page. For anyone who cares about the future of the Middle East, Prisoners is an unforgettable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Los Angeles Writer on May 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is the one book I would recommend reading about the Middle East. It explains so much. Jeffrey Goldberg's Prisoners is about a heavy subject, but it's really ultimately very uplifting. It is not just about the relationship between one Jew and one Palestinian, it is about the whole history and conflict of the Middle East, but he does it in a way that makes you unaware you're getting lessons in history and sociology and religion. It's a fast read, and very funny at times. Totally recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philip Collier on August 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I thought some of the very negative reviews of this book were
unfair. Goldberg seems sincere in trying to understand other
points of view. I do think that fundamental issues have to be
considered. I was prompted to write because I saw an atticle in
today's (August 24, 2014) by this author about anti-Jewish
hostility in Europe. An interesting comment on this possibility
was made in 1944 by Hannah Arendt. It is on page 160 of Israeli acadrmic Idith Zertal's book "Israel's Holocaust and the
Politics of Nationhood" published by the Cambridge University
Press in 2005.

"Nationalism is bad enough when it trusts in
nothing but the rude force of the nation. A
nationalism that necessarily and admittedly
depends upon the force of a foreign nation
is certainly worse. That is the threatened fate
of Jewish nationalism and the proposed Jewish
State, surrounded inevitably by Arab states and
Arab peoples. Even a Jewish majority in
Palestine--nay, even a transfer of all Palestine
Arabs, which is openly demanded by (Zionist )
Revisionists--would not substantially change a
situation in which Jews must either ask protection
from an outside power against their neighbors or
effect a working agreement with their neighbors…
The Zionists, if they continue to ignore the
Mediterranean people and watch out only for
the big faraway powers, will appear only as
their tools, the agents of foreign and hostile
interests. Jews who know their own history
should be aware that such a state of sffairs will
inevitably lead to a new wave of Jew--hatred, the
anti--Semitism of tomorrow.
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