Customer Reviews


54 Reviews
5 star:
 (44)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In The Land Of Israel
A light, breezy entertaining bit of pop-ethnology, fit to put on the shelf with such classics as Hedrick Smith's _The Russians_, Dusko Doder's _The Yugoslavs_, and Luigi Barzini's _The Italians_. Rosenthal interviewed an impressive cross-section of Israeli society, from all backgrounds and viewpoints. It's especially affecting to read the interviews with the young...
Published on May 27, 2004 by The Sanity Inspector

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If this is your first book on Israeli society, I would probably recommend it
I remember this was the first book I read on Israeli society before going to Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I remember it being rather decent. That being said I decided to read it again after attending the university for over 2 years. The book has many good stories and tries to shield itself from political criticism by stating the book is not about the...
Published on November 18, 2011 by Christopher M. Whitman Jr.


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In The Land Of Israel, May 27, 2004
A light, breezy entertaining bit of pop-ethnology, fit to put on the shelf with such classics as Hedrick Smith's _The Russians_, Dusko Doder's _The Yugoslavs_, and Luigi Barzini's _The Italians_. Rosenthal interviewed an impressive cross-section of Israeli society, from all backgrounds and viewpoints. It's especially affecting to read the interviews with the young people, whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, with their too-soon exposure to war's ugliness and their simultaneous brave hopes for the future. Caution: many if not most of the interviewees are pseudonymous.
It's a far-ranging book, with too many interesting foci to list completely: The decline of the collective ethic on Israel's kibbutzes. The insular nature of the ultra-Orthodox communities, and the painfully high human cost of leaving. The presence of ordinary vice and corruption, and how terrorists use the drug trade as a weapon of war. A potted history of Zionism, with many personal reminiscences of the 1948 war. Tours through the minority communities such as the Druze, the Bedouin, the Jews from Arab lands, and subcultures such as Russian prostitutes and gay Israelis.
Welcome inclusions are factual takedowns of widespread lies such as the Jenin "massacre". But polemics are not the meat of the book, the people are. It is very good to finally have some voices to put with the faces of this remarkable people. Let one of the interviewees have the last word:
"We're always in the headlines. _The New York Times_. CNN.
The BBC. We get more coverage than India. Than China. Than the entire continent of Africa. There's so much news about us, you'd think we're also a billion people, not six million. We're all the time on TV and front pages, so people think they know us. Unsmiling soldiers. Screaming settlers. Crying mourners. Bearded guys in black hats. Well, Israelis are much more than those photos. We complain about our teachers. Worry about exams. Flirt at parties. Wonder if we look good in our bathing suits. We curse at traffic jams and cut in line at the movies. We've got normal fears and dreams. Like young people everywhere, we want to find love and be loved. We're just normal people trying to live in this abnormal, tiny, beautiful country."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new literay resource for the Israeli society, October 30, 2003
By 
Abe "su9as" (Ann Arbor, MI United States) - See all my reviews
I teach a course on the middle east at the University. After reading this book, I realized that very few of us so called "experts" actually know abiut the State of Israel in depth. Many of my colleagues including myself really have no advanced knowledge about Israel even though we claim to be "knowledgeable" about the issues. This book opened up eyes and my head to an Israel that you don't hear about in the media. the book goes in depth to describe Israelis of every religon, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and class. It also describes the lives of the average Israeli, which is absent in all media outlets. I have decided to assign this book as required reading for the class I will be teaching about the Middle East in the coming spring semester.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book about Israel and the Israelis, November 26, 2004
By 
Jill Malter (jillmalter@aol.com) - See all my reviews
This is a very well written book about Israel. It consists of plenty of anecdotal information about a wide variety of aspects of Israeli life.

We see young adults, the army, and entrepreneurs. We see divisions among Jews into Ashkenazim, Mizrahim, Russians, Africans, Haredim, Orthodox, and Non-Orthodox. And we see the internal and external worries and problems they have. More than that, we see their reaction to "the situation," namely the war of annihilation being fought by extremist Arabs against the Jews of the region.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the description of non-Jewish Israelis: the Muslims, Bedouin, Druze, and Christians. I was amazed by the tolerance shown by the Israeli public for outright disloyalty to Israel in time of war shown by many non-Jews. I can't imagine acting so against a nation I happened to be visiting, let alone one I lived in and might even be a citizen of. These sections convinced me that there won't be any peace in the region for a long time.

One item I can't agree with is the subtitle: ordinary people in an extraordinary land. In fact, while the people are much the same as people everywhere, the land is also much the same as land everywhere. Israel is, after all, a small country that looms much larger than life due to the enormous amount of ink that is spent on it. Still, given some of the more outrageous things we sometimes see written about Israel and Israeli society from Israel's detractors, this book is a very refreshing change indeed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book on the lives of modern Israelis of all kinds., February 16, 2006
I first read The Israelis about a year ago, and I enjoyed it very much. With the recent events in and around the country (the Hamas election victory, Ariel Sharon's new political party, his incapacitation) I decided to read it again. I started by looking up a few facts for a discussion group, and became so involved that I read the book a second time from cover to cover. I've discussed the book with friends from Israel, and all but one of them feel that it is an accurate view of modern life. The one person who didn't agree said it was "skewed," with not enough weight given to the various Orthodox communities and beliefs (she is Orthodox). The impression I had of her comments, though, were that she wasn't unhappy with the boook per se, but rather with the current path being taken by Israelis, and that this boook is promoting this path. My feeling was that it wasn't promoting, just reporting it as accurately as possible.

If you plan to take a trip to Israel, read this book first. You'll enjoy your trip much more than you expected.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!, October 18, 2005
By 
Evan G. (Cincinnati, OH, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land (Paperback)
The Israelis tells the undistorted truth about the rich ethnic, cultural, etc. heritage of the Israeli people. It tells of the ups and downs of Israeli culture and the Israeli way of life. Is full of surprises and things that you never knew! A Must Read!

Sidenote: I personally saw the author speak in Cincinnati, OH at my High School and she is a wonderful woman with much to say. This book is amazing and I recommend it to anyone and everyone no matter who they are, what they believe in, or where they came from.

Thanks,

Evan G. from Cincinnati, OH
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars University Professors and Students Rave About This Book!, August 23, 2005
As a professor of History, Political Science and Comparative Cultures for the past 25 years, I strongly recommend that ALL instructors incorporate this book in their courses on the Middle East. ALL of my students for the past 6 semesters wrote in their course evaluations that this was the BEST BOOK they have ever read at the university! In fact, more than half said it was the best book they've read in years! This book is extremely well written, factual, funny, and a fast read. FYI - The Department Heads of our Political Science and History Departments are recommending that their colleagues incorporate this book in their classrooms!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting blend of history, interviews and reporting, January 5, 2004
By 
Rosenthal does a stupendous job of illuminating the shadowy corners, bright spots and internal conflicts of this tiny country filled with Jews from all over the world, with little in common but a beleaguered history of persecution.
With a lively and well-organized mixture of reporting, history and interviews, Rosenthal brings cultures and neighborhoods to life. She begins with the violence - a bus blown up by a suicide bomber, then follows the tentacles of conflict into everyday life. It's the violence that fuels the youth culture of work hard, play hard, and fosters a cross-cultural, patriotic military solidarity that cuts through religious and political differences.
While the first section concentrates on what Israelis share, the second divides them into groups. The European Ashkenazi, educated, dominant, and often secular, arouse resentment in the middle-Eastern Mizrahi who are more religious, more conservative and poorer. Then there are the Russians, hordes of them, mostly secular, and many not even Jewish (only one Jewish grandparent is required for immigration). And strangest of all, the Ethiopians, wholly isolated and heroically rescued, many of whom never saw electricity until emigration.
The third section explores religious differences: the anti-Zionist Haredim who, ironically, absorb the most from the welfare state with their large families and non-working, scholarly fathers; the Orthodox, who make up the bulk of the settlers in the occupied territories, and write the rules for marriage and divorce, and the Non-Orthodox who make up 80 percent of the population. Then there are the non-Jews: the Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouin.
And finally there's the sexual revolution - marriage and divorce, homosexuality, prostitution.
Rosenthal lets individual voices emerge from the clamor and cacaphony to plead their way of life with fervor, hope, defiance and sometimes bewilderment. Her reportage and history blend seamlessly with the interviews to provide context. This is a masterful portrait of a country built on a commonality, but rife with contradictions. It'll make you wonder what will happen if peace ever comes. A fascinating read about a tiny, beseiged country, populated by the whole wide world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way Israelis live now, October 9, 2004
This is perhaps the best book ever written on exploring the ordinary lives of Israelis,and the way they live now. It explores in great details the lives of a wide variety of Israelis, and gives much inside information on the society. It gives very sympathetic and understanding portraits of the victims of terror. And it shows a basic understanding of the complex social reality of Israel.

It does however it seem to fall short in its ultimate political judgment and wisdom, with its endorsement of a two- state solution that might be disastrous for Israel. .It is also perhaps not completely fair and understanding of the Jewish religious public in Israel.

Nonetheless there is no other book I can think of which puts the reader more directly in contact with so many different Israelis from so many different walks of life. And it thus presents something of the complexity of Israeli life which is ordinarily absent in cliche and cardboard presentations of it in the mass media.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book, July 3, 2004
This is probably one of the best books that I have ever read on the people of Israel! I couldn't put it down. I found that the honesty and realness of the people was astounding. I reccommend it to anyone and everyone who wants to understand the Israeli people.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Israelis, September 6, 2005
This review is from: The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land (Paperback)
To be honest, I picked up this book and started to read it simply out of boredom, but it turned out to greatly exceed my expectations. As an Israeli myself, I can truthfully say this book very accurately describes what life in Israel is like today - definitely not what we all see on television.

There are so many different cultures, beliefs, and ideas within Israel itself, and Donna Rosenthal did an excellent job portraying many of those lifestyles: the secular, the religious, the Christian, the Druze, etc. Her book does give the reader a pretty clear and truthful picture of the situation in the country.

Each of the stories she chose to write about were also quite interesting. The book was pretty much a page-turner for me. Even though I probably knew most of these things, as I've lived them myself, it was still a great read, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wishes to get the true image of Israel, not what we see on the news every day.

All the stories were very clear and straight to the point. The ending chapter is dedicated to how it is possible to live together, after all, which I believe is very important.

Even though this book is quite a light read, I trust you'll still get a lot out of it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land
The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land by Donna Rosenthal (Paperback - February 24, 2005)
$16.00 $12.93
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.