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Breaking Ranks: Turbulent Travels in the Promised Land

Overview

Ben Black is like any other guy in his twenties: he switches between jobs, he lives on the rough, he travels off the beaten track. He smokes grass, he flirts with politics, he falls in love.

When Ben migrates from Scotland to Israel, his life takes a more exotic turn. He explores the lost city of Petra and a secret, secluded beach in the Sinai Desert. He goes camel racing with the Bedouin and feasts in the hummous parlours of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Then there is the experience that...

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Overview

Ben Black is like any other guy in his twenties: he switches between jobs, he lives on the rough, he travels off the beaten track. He smokes grass, he flirts with politics, he falls in love.

When Ben migrates from Scotland to Israel, his life takes a more exotic turn. He explores the lost city of Petra and a secret, secluded beach in the Sinai Desert. He goes camel racing with the Bedouin and feasts in the hummous parlours of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Then there is the experience that could occur nowhere else: a suicide bomb blast on his bus route to work.

His life alters irreversibly one day when his military call-up papers arrive and Ben - having moved to Israel in the mid 1990s as the promise of peace seemed so close - is forced to choose between his conscience and his country.

As Ben tries to reconcile his belief in the inevitability of a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the realities of military service, he brings into sharp, personal focus the meanings of war and peace in the Middle East.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The latest in Lonely Planet's Journeys series has one foot in the social sciences and one in the travelogue genre. First-time author Black lived and traveled in Israel for 10 years; the book follows the parallel development of Black's perspective and Israel's political trends from innocent optimism to mature realism. Black, who grew up in Scotland, spends a year on a kibbutz and makes several remarkable journeys to parts of the Middle East not usually visited by tourists. Meanwhile, "during those same formative years, between eighteen and twenty-one, my peers in Israel were conscripted to the army," fighting against the Palestinian intifada. After meeting his future wife and moving back to the U.K., in 1994 Black returns to the Holy Land, drawn by the opportunities of "a time when the word `peace' had taken on mantra status, when the Oslo accords were but a year old." Black recounts extraordinary details about places like Petra in Jordan, an ancient "lost" city of Israel whose "intoxicating" architecture induced generations of Israeli youth to attempt illegal visits, before the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian treaty opened it up to Israelis. Soon, though, the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin and other terrorism by Islamic fundamentalists refueled Israel's right wing. Black, who becomes an Israeli citizen, must decide between army service or leaving the country as "a conscientious objector." This is a fascinating read that should be required for any young person thinking of visiting or moving to Israel, as well as for older readers seeking a better firsthand account of the lives of Israeli youth. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
At the age of three, Black took the first of many trips to Israel with his Scottish parents, committed but nonreligious Jews. At 18, he experienced a formative year working with classmates on a kibbutz on the Lebanese border. After returning to the U.K. and university, Black realized that he felt more at home in Israel, and finally, at age 24, he decided to settle there and become an Israeli citizen. His narrative combines autobiography, travel descriptions, and political analysis to give readers a strong picture of Israel during 1995 and 2001. As the story progresses, readers are able to follow Black's maturation from young, pot-smoking, beer-drinking adolescent into a thoughtful, literate, and pacifist adult. While reading Black's lyrical descriptions of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Masada, the Dead Sea, Jaffa, and Haifa, this reviewer, who has previously made three long trips to Israel, felt she was experiencing the unique quality of life all over again. This debut will not disappoint Lonely Planet readers who have come to appreciate the offbeat and nontraditional approach that characterizes their publications. Definitely recommended for all libraries with large travel or strong Middle Eastern collections. Olga B. Wise, Compaq Computer Corp., Austin, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781864503616
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Series: Travel Literature Series
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 4.97 (w) x 7.69 (h) x 1.51 (d)

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