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The Zoo on the Road to Nablus: A Story of Survival from the West Bank Hardcover – April 22, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
This engaging and deftly told book shines a light on a lesser-known victim of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Palestine's last zoo, located in battle-ravaged Qalqilya, surrounded by Israel. British journalist Thomas recounts a year and a half in the life of the zoo, following zoo veterinarian Dr. Sami Khader's dogged—often futile—attempts to transform a neglected menagerie into an institution of international caliber. An enormously sympathetic portrait emerges of Khader's travails—his grief over the deaths of beloved animals and his struggles to secure funding from a distracted government. Thomas crafts richly detailed depictions of the zoo, and her animal anecdotes are prefaced with meticulous—often tedious—histories of their origins (the introduction to the lion touches upon Charlemagne, Cicero and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair). Despite the lengthy historical asides, this book is a unique and fascinating account of one man's persistence and his fierce dedication to his animal friends. (Apr.)
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"Intriguing and moving." -- Kirkus
"Somehow it's the tragedy of the animals in Qalqilya's zoo that humanizes the plight of the town's human population, whose story we so often ignore among all the other bad news from the Middle East. The zoo's head, Dr. Sami, and his oddball staff are lovable, shocking, and deeply compelling characters--as are their favorite animals. The Zoo on the Road to Nablus is a marvelous portrayal of the real life of the Palestinians, a people usually exhibited on our television screens as though they were captive in a zoo themselves." -- Matt Beynon Rees, author of A Grave in Gaza
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Top customer reviews
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This book is very well written. It provides a unique insight into a volatile region. Speaking as an American, I am used to seeing people from this region reduced to caricatures by the news. This book shows the human side of the Palestinian people and how they deal with the occupation. This book is worth reading.
(*) Do not misunderstand; this book does not take a stance on Israeli / Palestinian relations nor does this review – it only deals with the facts of daily life in the West Bank.
I found that this book dragged me into its world, and would not let me go until we reached the last page. I suspect that anyone interested in the inner workings of a zoo will feel the same way, With one caveat – anyone with strong Anti-Israeli or Anti-Palestinian sentiments will be disappointed in the fact that members of both sides of this conflict are depicted as (gasp) human beings.
RATING: 4 ½ stars, rounded up to 5 stars where half stars are not permitted. The book engaged me and left me with multiple thoughts and images that will remain with me long after I’ve moved on to other reading material.