22 October 2006

The Lemon Tree

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan is unquestionably one of the best books ever written on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for people who aren't very familiar with the region. There are so many books out there on the conflict that it's difficult to find books that are interesting, fair and accurate. Tolan manages all three.

There really isn't anything new here; all of this is well-documented and there are many similar stories that could be told. But what's new here is that both sides are presented in an unbiased and complete manner. Yes, some think the Israelis are presented much too negatively in this book. You can't say the Palestinians are presented in a good light though- there are plenty of details of Palestinian terrorism (and you get plenty more in the news). Both sides have done awful things to each other and neither is morally superior to the other and that clearly comes through. Tolan doesn't skip over atrocities committed by either the Palestinians or the Israelis.

I've long enjoyed and recommend Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour for those who want to get a different perspective on the Middle East. I still love the book, but I'll also be recommending The Lemon Tree.


  1. I'm happy to read your take on this--I absolutely loved it, but since I know virtually nothing about Arab-Israeli issues, I worried that I'd been taken in.

  2. I'm ordering it, Amira, as well as the other. I need to understand this area of the world better.