Cramer's quick, anecdotal, very personal style puts an entertaining spin on an otherwise extremely painful reality. His forte is in capturing events by showing how they affect the lives of real people. Cramer is a collector of stories, which he then uses to support two theories about the Middle East: one, that the long occupation has damaged every aspect of Israeli society; and two, that no peace agreement can be reached as long as Israel does not understand and accept the Palestinian honor principle.
The New York Times
If ever a book on Israel and the Palestinians was a good read, it's this introduction to the half-century-long conflict. Cramer, who won a Pulitzer in 1979 for Middle East reporting, divides his book into four parts, dealing with four questions on the model of the four questions asked by children at the Passover seder. He blends up-to-the-minute events of the Palestinian uprising with memories of his time as a Middle East correspondent in the late 1970s and early 1980s for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Cramer is great at telling an anecdote, whether about his visit as a correspondent to an Arab village where he learns about both hospitality and honor, or about a recent visit to an Israeli family that he finds instructive regarding Palestinians' inability to reconcile themselves to a Jewish presence. When it comes to prognosis, Cramer shoots straight from the hip in giving advice to both sides. He's of the "plague on both of their houses" school ("I should have told [the mother of a dead Palestinian militant] the same thing I would have told Sharon: ...you can't make a nation... based on whom you hate, or how many of them you kill"), and he's equally dismissive of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, although he seems to come down harder on the Israelis for failing to recognize the Arab world's need for honor. Many will find this a welcome personal introduction to the conflict, but those looking for a more measured tone would be better served with David Horovitz's Still Life With Bombers (Forecasts, Jan. 26). Agent, Philippa Brophy. (May 12) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The recent assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin has made this work both timely and essential reading for those wanting a clearer understanding of the issues that face this war-torn region. Cramer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for his reporting in the Middle East, has produced a memoir combining 25 years of experiences in the Middle East with both humor and common sense. Cramer organizes his discussion into four questions: Why do we care about Israel? Why is there no Palestinian state? What is a Jewish state? Why is there no peace? His frank analysis highlights the irony of a Jewish government that refuses the Palestinians the very rights that the Jews have been denied throughout their history. He concludes that many factors (e.g., culture clash, corruption, quest for power, and fear) have caused Israel to lose sight of its original purpose: the founding of a Jewish state. With both sides relying on their role in the conflict and corruptive influences (Arafat and Sharon) working to keep the status quo for their own purposes, Cramer paints an excellent case for the Palestinian root cause-a place for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.-Maria C. Bagshaw, Lake Erie Coll., Painesville, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Cramer writes beautifully, and with intention. He seeks to force his readers, no matter what their stance might have been when they opened his book, to examine the harsh truths behind U.S. policies in the Middle East."
-- John Nichols, The Progressive
"Told without fear, this is a story that could -- if read with an open mind -- stir a much needed and honest debate about the future of U.S.-Israel relations."
-- Bob Kerrey, former Senator from Nebraska and President of The New School
"Cramer presents a strong case. You might not agree, but it's impossible to read this book and not think."
-- Jeff Guinn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Cramer...marshals facts and vivid anecdotes to back up his case."
-- Barbara Slavin, USA Today
"How Israel Lost has many virtues: moving stories about Israeli and Palestinian suffering; shrewd reporting...and a street-smart attitude that cuts through the fog of government doublespeak and partisan myth."
-- Jonathan Dorfman, The Boston Globe
"Solid and irrefutable...Cramer's theme is the tragic predicament of the Israelis and Palestinians...funny and bitterly sad, shrewd and down-to-earth....This book is a powerful polemic that deserves to be read."
-- Amos Elon, The New York Review of Books