The Washington Post
How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Lessby Sarah Glidden
When Sarah Glidden took a “Birthright Israel” tour, she thought she knew what she was getting herself into. But when she got to Israel, she found that things weren’t quite so simple. HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL is Sarah’s memoir not only of her Israeli governmentsponsored trip through Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Masada and other famous locations, but of the emotional journey she never expected to take while she was there. Her experience clashes with her preconceived notions again and again, particularly when she tries to take a non-chaperoned trip into the West Bank. Sarah is forced to question first her political beliefs and, ultimately, her own sense of identity, until she finds that to understand Israel she first must come to understand herself.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Washington Post
"A memoir of a trip this left-leaning Jew takes to Israel, determined to have her ideas about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict confirmed. Of course, things turn out more complicated than Glidden had imagined. So do her deceptively simple line drawings… and the thinking that informs the vivid dialogue in a graphic nonfiction novel of subtlety and understated wit." -Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
This graphic memoir, the author's book-length debut, relates her eye-opening visit to Israel.
Before embarking on her "birthright" tour of Israel, Glidden explained to her non-Jewish boyfriend that "I'm ready to go there and discover the truth behind this whole mess once and for all. It'll all be crystal clear by the time I come back!" The narrative sustains that spirit of self-deprecating innocence throughout, making Glidden an effective guide through the trouble spots of the Middle East, though inevitably she returns home with more questions than answers, more ambivalence than assurance. Anticipating propaganda that would attempt to counter what she terms her "left-wing and progressive," pro-Palestinian sympathies, she met Israelis who shared some of her reservations and discovered that people whom she liked could have conflicting opinions on complex issues. "We ask only one thing of you and that is not to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, but to be pro-peace," she heard at a speakers' panel of Jews and Muslims who had both lost loved ones to the conflict. By the end of her two-month tour, she realizes that peace in the Middle East is the ultimate goal, but that achieving it will be a very challenging process. She attempts some inventive narrative techniques, but the author would have to show more insight or more of an edge to give readers more than they already know.
A primer for those who aren't aware of the complexity of issues and emotions underlying this seemingly interminable strife.
- DC Comics
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- 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Meet the Author
Sarah Glidden is a graduate of Boston University and lives in Seattle. Her comics have appeared in The Guardian, the Nib, Haaretz, and the Jewish Quarterly. In 2010, Glidden shadowed journalists from The Seattle Globalist as they reported from Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. Their interviews with refugees and internally displaced people form her second book, Rolling Blackouts.
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It may be a strong assessment, but I think that the word "propaganda" is accurate.
Part memoir and part geopolitical expose, How to Understand Israel has taught me more about the Israel-Palestine conflict that just about anything else I've ever read. Finally I have a fair grasp of the complex historical background and the various layers of tension between the two groups. The author is frank about her own uncertainties and changes of opinion as her "Birthright Trip" proceeds, which makes this book much more approachable than the numerous academics texts on the same subject. For anyone who thinks that graphic novels are all about superheroes, prepare to be surprised. How to Understand Israel is smart, compassionate, and well worth the read.