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Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation Paperback – November 4, 2014
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*Starred Review* It is probably the most iconic photograph of the 1967 Six-Day War—a group of Israeli paratroopers gazing upward with a look of wonder at the sacred Western Wall, the surviving remnant of the temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. These were men of Brigade 55, a reserve unit primarily responsible for liberating the wall and seizing East Jerusalem from Jordanian control. The photo and the Israeli victory engendered an immediate sense of pride, joy, and euphoria that enveloped Israeli and Diaspora Jews, left and right, secular and religious. Since then, of course, the conquest of Jerusalem and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) has been rather a poisoned pill, dividing Israel politically as it rules over a huge Arab population. Halevi is an American-born Israeli journalist and a promoter of Jewish-Arab reconciliation. Here he tracks the subsequent lives of seven of the Brigade 55 members. Some became staunch proponents of settlement activity on Palestinian land and some became members of the left-wing Peace Now movement. One even helped create an anti-Zionist underground movement. Halevi succeeds in his broader goal of linking these men and their families to Israel’s history during the past five decades. This is a beautifully written and sometimes heartbreaking account of these men, their families, and their nation. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Powerful…. a textured, beautifully written narrative…. There is much to admire in this book, especially Mr. Halevi’s skill at getting inside the hearts and minds of these seven men.” (Ethan Bronner, New York Times)
“Mr. Halevi’s masterly book brings us into [the]…debate and the lives of those who live it, not through fiction but through a factual account illuminated by his own intelligence and empathy.” (Elliott Abrams, Wall Street Journal)
“Brilliant.” (David Laskin, USA Today)
“Like Dreamers is a big book, perhaps the big book on Israel we have been waiting for…. [It] is a remarkable feat of reporting, thrilling, painful, and brilliantly recounted, and an unparalleled portrait of Israel’s last five decades.” (Don Futterman, Daily Beast)
“A magnificent book, one of the two or three finest books about Israel I have ever read…. Nothing explains more eloquently why Israel, more than most any other country, lives or dies based on the power and justice of its animating ideas.” (Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg News)
“Yossi Klein Halevi has written the Israeli epic.” (Michael Oren, best-selling author of Six Days of War and Israeli Ambassador to Washington)
“Like Dreamers is quite simply the best book about modern Israel I have ever read.” (Jonathan Rosen, author of Joy Comes in the Morning.)
“Yossi Klein Halevi has long been the most incisive and eloquent journalist writing from Israel for an American audience. This is his masterpiece. ” (Samuel G. Freedman, author of Jew vs. Jew)
“Like Dreamers is at once magisterial and enthralling, observed with the sharp eye of a master journalist, the patience of a serious historian and the style of an exceptional storyteller.” (Zev Chafets, author of Roger Ailes: Off Camera)
“A fascinating study of modern Israel.” (New York Post)
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Like Dreamers is the story of the parachute brigade that fought Jordanien troops and captured Jerusalem.Their heroic action solidified support across all of Israel and turned many of the men into heroes This story is thoroughly researched by a well known Israeli author. He tracks the lives of these men right up to the beginning of the Intifada.
The first third of the book resonates with action and excitement of ordinary men performing heroic acts.The following two thirds of the book follows the lives of these men as they return to their civilian lives. We then get very deep into the weeds of domestic Israeli politics.For the most casual Non-Israeli reader, this deep dive makes for a challenging read.
With my comments, not withstanding, Like Dreamers is a masterfully researched, beautifully written story that deserves all of the accolades the author has earned.
Today the problems created in the aftermath of the war are still with us, and, the world is still waiting for a solution.
Each story of the members of the paratroop brigade is richly drawn. The reader sees them during war and during the periods of uneasy peace- regular call up of the reserves, training, preparing for war and how that impacts on their lives The book fleshes out the background of the settler movement and how it has impacted the attempt to achieve peace.Religious extremism, the Intifada, both the first and second, it's all here. The extreme interpretation of Jewish text and how that text lead to the death of Prime Minister Rabin is explored. For those of us who have grown up listening to the heroic stories of the kibbutzniks, it is interesting to read about whether the movement remains relevant today.
Whether it is the small size of the country or its population, it is fascinating to read about the thread that binds these paratroopers through political infighting or religious disputations.
The book, while lengthy, provides unique insight into the lives and struggles of people who have sought to build a home in a pretty tough neighborhood..
For those who want an interesting and thoroughly readable piece that informs and makes daily headlines more understandable, this book is the one.
Stephen Ira Tamber
Being Jewish is an continual struggle to understand oneself and one's place in the world under the heavy burden of history. Yossi Klein Halevi is a master at this exercise.