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In 1934, eleven-year-old Shimon Peres emigrated to the land of Israel from his native Poland, leaving behind an extended family who would later be murdered in the Holocaust. Few back then would have predicted that this young man would eventually become one of the towering figures of the twentieth century. Peres would indeed go on to serve the new state as prime minister, president, foreign minister, and the head of several other ministries.
He was central to the establishment of the Israeli Defense Forces and the defense industry that would provide the young state with a robust deterrent power. He was crucial to launching Israel’s nuclear energy program and to the creation of its high-tech “Start-up Nation” revolution. His refusal to surrender to conventional wisdom and political norms helped save the Israeli economy and prompted some of the most daring military operations in history, among them the legendary Operation Entebbe. And yet, as important as his role in creating and deploying Israel’s armed forces was, his stunning transition from hawk to dove—with its accompanying unwavering commitment to peace—made him one of the globe’s most recognized, honored, and admired statesmen.
In this, his final work, finished only weeks before his passing, Peres offers a long-awaited examination of the crucial turning points in Israeli history through the prism of having been a decision maker and eyewitness. Told with the frankness of someone aware this would likely be his final statement, No Room for Small Dreams spans decades and events, but as much as it is about what happened, it is about why it happened. Examining pivotal moments in Israel’s rise, Peres explores what makes for a great leader, how to make hard choices in a climate of uncertainty and distress, the challenges of balancing principles with policies, and the liberating nature of imagination and unpredicted innovation.
In doing so, he not only charts a better path forward for his beloved country but provides deep and universal wisdom for younger generations who seek to lead—be it in politics, business, or the broader service of making our planet a safer, more peaceful, and just place.
The first definitive history of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the IDF’s targeted killing programs, hailed by The New York Times as “an exceptional work, a humane book about an incendiary subject.”
The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively.
In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman—praised by David Remnick as “arguably [Israel’s] best investigative reporter”—offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs: their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.
Bergman has gained the exceedingly rare cooperation of many current and former members of the Israeli government, including Prime Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as high-level figures in the country’s military and intelligence services: the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), the Mossad (the world’s most feared intelligence agency), Caesarea (a “Mossad within the Mossad” that carries out attacks on the highest-value targets), and the Shin Bet (an internal security service that implemented the largest targeted assassination campaign ever, in order to stop what had once appeared to be unstoppable: suicide terrorism).
Including never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of files to which Bergman has gotten exclusive access over his decades of reporting, Rise and Kill First brings us deep into the heart of Israel’s most secret activities. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel’s targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world.
David Ben-Gurion cast a great shadow during his lifetime, and his legacy continues to be sharply debated to this day. There have been many books written about the life and accomplishments of the Zionist icon and founder of modern Israel, but this new biography by eminent Israeli historian Anita Shapira strives to get to the core of the complex man who would become the face of the new Jewish nation.
Shapira tells the Ben-Gurion story anew, focusing especially on the period after 1948, during the first years of statehood. As a result of her extensive research and singular access to Ben-Gurion’s personal archives, the author provides fascinating and original insights into his personal qualities and those that defined his political leadership. As Shapira writes, “Ben-Gurion liked to argue that history is made by the masses, not individuals. But just as Lenin brought the Bolshevik Revolution into the world and Churchill delivered a fighting Britain, so with Ben-Gurion and the Jewish state. He knew how to create and exploit the circumstances that made its birth possible.”
Shapira’s portrait reveals the flesh-and-blood man who more than anyone else realized the Israeli state.
Guardian Book of the Day New Statesman Book of the Year History Today Book of the Year Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year BBC History Magazine Book of the Year 'Bustles impressively with detail and anecdote' -Sunday Times `Consistently fascinating' -The Spectator 'Beautifully written and deeply researched' -The Observer 'Barr draws on a rich and varied trove of sources to knit a sequence of dramatic episodes into an elegant whole. Great events march through these pages' -Wall Street JournalUpon victory in 1945, Britain still dominated the Middle East. She directly ruled Palestine and Aden, was the kingmaker in Iran, the power behind the thrones of Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, and protected the sultan of Oman and the Gulf sheikhs. But her motives for wanting to dominate this crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa were changing. Where `imperial security' - control of the route to India - had once been paramount, now oil was an increasingly important factor. So, too, was prestige. Ironically, the very end of empire made control of the Middle East precious in itself: on it hung Britain's claim to be a great power. Unable to withstand Arab and Jewish nationalism, within a generation the British were gone. But that is not the full story. What ultimately sped Britain on her way was the uncompromising attitude of the United States, which was determined to displace the British in the Middle East. The British did not give in gracefully to this onslaught. Using newly declassified records and long-forgotten memoirs, including the diaries of a key British spy, James Barr tears up the conventional interpretation of this era in the Middle East, vividly portraying the tensions between London and Washington, and shedding an uncompromising light on the murkier activities of a generation of American and British diehards in the region, from the battle of El Alamein in 1942 to Britain's abandonment of Aden in 1967. Reminding us that the Middle East has always served as the arena for great power conflict, this is the tale of an internecine struggle in which Britain would discover that her most formidable rival was the ally she had assumed would be her closest friend. Reviews for A Line In The Sand:- 'Masterful' -The Spectator 'With superb research and telling quotations, Barr has skewered the whole shabby story' -The Times 'Lively and entertaining. He has scoured the diplomatic archives of the two powers and has come up with a rich haul that brings his narrative to life' -Financial Times
The moving story of one young man's struggle to find peace during war, and the power of music to bring hope to a desperate nation. BBC Radio 4 'Book of the Week' __________ A man, a piano, a Syrian street under siege . . . One morning on the outskirts of war-torn Damascus, a starving man stumbles through a once familiar street - now just piles of rubble. Everything he once knew has been destroyed by famine and war. In despair he turns to his only comfort and joy, music, and pushes his piano into the street and begins to play. He plays of love and hope, he plays for his family and for his fellow Syrians. He plays even though he knows he could be killed for doing so. As word of his act of defiance spreads around the world, he becomes a beacon of hope and even resistance. Yet he fears for his wife and children, his elderly parents. And he is right to be scared, because the more he plays, the more he and his family are drawn into danger. Finally he is forced to make a terrible choice - between staying and waiting to die, or saving himself, but this would mean abandoning his family . . . Aeham Ahmad's spellbinding and uplifting true story tells of the triumph of love and hope, of the incredible bonds of family, and the healing power of music in even the very darkest of places.
Is there an inevitable global violent clash unfolding between the world's largest religions: Islam and Christianity? Do religions cause violent conflicts, or are there other factors at play? How can we make sense of increasing reports of violence between Christian and Muslim ethnic communities across the world? By seeking to answer such questions about the relationship between religion and violence in today's world, Ziya Meral challenges popular theories and offers an alternative explanation, grounded on insights inferred from real cases of ethno-religious violence in Africa and the Middle East.
The relationship between religion and violence runs deep and both are intrinsic to the human story. Violence leads to and shapes religion, while religion acts to enable violence as well as providing responses that contain and prevent it. However, with religious violence being one of the most serious challenges facing the modern world, Meral shows that we need to de-globalise our analysis and focus on individual conflicts, instead of attempting to provide single answers to complex questions.
After the enormous international success of The Phantom Atlas and The Golden Atlas, Edward Brooke-Hitching's stunning new book unveils some of the most beautiful maps and charts ever created during mankind's quest to map the skies above us. This richly illustrated treasury showcases the finest examples of celestial cartography - a glorious genre of map-making often overlooked by modern map books - as well as medieval manuscripts, masterpiece paintings, ancient star catalogues, antique instruments and other appealing curiosities. This is the sky as it has never been presented before: the realm of stars and planets, but also of gods, devils, weather wizards, flying sailors, medieval aliens, mythological animals and rampaging spirits. The reader is taken on a tour of star-obsessed cultures around the world, learning about Tibetan sky burials, star-covered Inuit dancing coats, Mongolian astral prophets and Sir William Herschel's 1781 discovery of Uranus, the first planet to be found since antiquity. Even stranger are the forgotten stories from European history, like the English belief of the Middle Ages in ships that sailed a sea above the clouds, 16th-century German UFO sightings and the Edwardian aristocrat who mistakenly mapped alien-made canals on the surface of Mars. As the intricacies of our universe are today being revealed with unprecedented clarity, there has never been a better time for a highly readable book as beautiful as the night sky to contextualise the scale of these achievements for the general reader.
The best-known modern Chinese fairy tale is the story of three sisters from Shanghai, who for most of the twentieth century were at the centre of power in China. It was sometimes said that `One loved money, one loved power and one loved her country', but there was far more to the Soong sisters than these caricatures. As China battled through a hundred years of wars, revolutions and seismic transformations, each sister played an important, sometimes critical role, and left an indelible mark on history. Red Sister, Ching-ling, married Sun Yat-sen, founding father of the Chinese republic, and later became Mao's vice-chair. Little Sister, May-ling, was Madame Chiang Kai-shek, first lady of the pre-Communist Nationalist China and a major political figure in her own right. Big Sister, Ei-ling, was Chiang's unofficial main adviser. She made herself one of China's richest women - and her husband Chiang's prime minister. All three sisters enjoyed tremendous privilege and glory, but also endured constant attacks and mortal danger. They showed great courage and experienced passionate love, as well as despair and heartbreak. The relationship between them was highly charged emotionally, especially once they had embraced opposing political camps and Ching-ling dedicated herself to destroying her two sisters' world. Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is a gripping story of love, war, exile, intrigue, glamour and betrayal, which takes us on a monumental journey, from Canton to Hawaii and New York, from exiles' quarters in Japan and Berlin to secret meeting rooms in Moscow, and from the compounds of the Communist elite in Beijing to the corridors of power in democratic Taiwan. In a group biography that is by turns intimate and epic, Jung Chang reveals the lives of three extraordinary women who helped shape the history of twentieth-century China.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE The extraordinary and essential story of how China became the powerful country it is today. Even at the high noon of Europe's empires China managed to be one of the handful of countries not to succumb. Invaded, humiliated and looted, China nonetheless kept its sovereignty. Robert Bickers' major new book is the first to describe fully what has proved to be one of the modern era's most important stories: the long, often agonising process by which the Chinese had by the end of the 20th century regained control of their own country. Out of China uses a brilliant array of unusual, strange and vivid sources to recreate a now fantastically remote world: the corrupt, lurid modernity of pre-War Shanghai, the often tiny patches of 'extra-territorial' land controlled by European powers (one of which, unnoticed, had mostly toppled into a river), the entrepots of Hong Kong and Macao, and the myriad means, through armed threats, technology and legal chicanery, by which China was kept subservient. Today Chinese nationalism stays firmly rooted in memories of its degraded past - the quest for self-sufficiency, a determination both to assert China's standing in the world and its outstanding territorial claims, and never to be vulnerable to renewed attack. History matters deeply to Beijing's current rulers - and Out of China explains why.
'An outstanding history ... one of the best writers on the First World War' Simon Sebag Montefiore Shortlisted for the Duke of Westminster Medal for Military Literature The Ottoman Endgame is the first, and definitive, single-volume history of the Ottoman empire's agonising war for survival. Beginning with Italy's invasion of Ottoman Tripoli in September 1911, the Empire was in a permanent state of emergency, with hardly a frontier not under direct threat. Assailed by enemies on all sides, the Empire-which had for generations been assumed to be a rotten shell-proved to be strikingly resilient, beating off major attacks at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia before finally being brought down in the general ruin of the Central Powers in 1918. As the Europeans planned to partition all its lands between them and with even Istanbul seemingly helpless in the face of the triumphant Entente, an absolutely unexpected entity emerged: modern Turkey. Under the startling genius of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a powerful new state emerged from the Empire's fragments. This is the first time an author has woven the entire epic together from start to finish - and it will cause many readers to fundamentally re-evaluate their understanding of the conflict. The consequences, well into the 21st century, could not have been more momentous - with countries as various as Serbia, Greece, Libya, Armenia, Iraq and Syria still living with them.
Beijing has several millennia of human history. It has been a city of regional importance for many centuries, first becoming the Chinese imperial capital in 1267. The city has been known by various names through the ages, reflecting a turbulent history of change. As the political and cultural heart of modern China, Beijing has grown dramatically since the Communist revolution of 1949. Beijing Then and Now shows how that dramatic modernization has affected the city and how, despite all the new building and modern infrastructure, some of the great historic sites have been preserved and maintained. Sites include: Deshengmen Arrow Tower, Qianmen Arrow Tower, Qianmen Gate, Entrance to the Imperial City, Mao's Mausoleum, Tiananmen Gate, Duanmen Gate, Entrance to the Forbidden City, Wumen Gate, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Jingshan, Beihai Park, the White Dagoba, Imperial Canal, Drum Tower, Beihai Lake, Bell Tower, Temple of Confucius, Hall of Classics, Imperial Observatory, Qianmen Boulevard, Hall of Prayer, Altar of Heaven, British Legation, Dong Tang, Marble Boat, Jade Belt Bridge, Ming Tombs, Spirit Road and the Great Wall of China.
A SUNDAY TIMES, THE TIMES, SPECTATOR, NEW STATESMAN, TLS BOOK OF THE YEAR 'A richly panoramic exploration of the British experience of India ... hugely researched and elegantly written, sensitive to the ironies of the past and brimming with colourful details' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times The British in this book lived in India from shortly after the reign of Elizabeth I until well into the reign of Elizabeth II. Who were they? What drove these men and women to risk their lives on long voyages down the Atlantic and across the Indian Ocean or later via the Suez Canal? And when they got to India, what did they do and how did they live? This book explores the lives of the many different sorts of Briton who went to India: viceroys and offcials, soldiers and missionaries, planters and foresters, merchants, engineers, teachers and doctors. It evokes the three and a half centuries of their ambitions and experiences, together with the lives of their families, recording the diversity of their work and their leisure, and the complexity of their relationships with the peoples of India. It also describes the lives of many who did not fit in with the usual image of the Raj: the tramps and rascals, the men who 'went native', the women who scorned the role of the traditional memsahib. David Gilmour has spent decades researching in archives, studying the papers of many people who have never been written about before, to create a magnificent tapestry of British life in India. It is exceptional work of scholarly recovery portrays individuals with understanding and humour, and makes an original and engaging contribution to a long and important period of British and Indian history.
The life of Gandhi, in his own words 'Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood' Albert Einstein upon the death of M. K. Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in western India in 1869. He was educated in London and later travelled to South Africa, where he experienced racism and took up the rights of Indians, instituting his first campaign of passive resistance. In 1915 he returned to British-controlled India, bringing to a country in the throes of independence his commitment to non-violent change, and his belief always in the power of truth. Under Gandhi's lead, millions of protesters would engage in mass campaigns of civil disobedience, seeking change through moral conversion of the colonizers. For Gandhi, the long path towards Indian independence would lead to imprisonment and hardship, yet he never once forgot the principles of truth and non-violence so dear to him. Written in the 1920s, Gandhi's autobiography tells not only of his struggles and inspirations but also speaks frankly of his failures. It is a powerful and enduring account of an extraordinary life. 'Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics' Martin Luther King Jr. 'I have the greatest admiration for Mahatma Gandhi. He was a great human being with a deep understanding of human nature. His life has inspired me' The Dalai Lama 'Gandhi's ideas have played a vital role in South Africa's transformation and with the help of Gandhi's teaching, apartheid has been overcome' Nelson Mandela
Inspiration for the major film starring Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi and directed by Gurinder Chadha. Seventy years ago, at midnight on 14 August 1947, the Union Jack began its final journey down the flagstaff of Viceroy's House, New Delhi. A fifth of humanity claimed their independence from the greatest empire history has ever seen - but the price of freedom was high, as a nation erupted into riots and bloodshed, partition and war. This is an electrifying and acclaimed account of the dying days of the British Raj and the drama played out between Lord Mountbatten, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah, as an empire undertook a violent transformation into the new India and Pakistan.
For some 40 years the Islamic Republic has resisted widespread condemnation, sanctions, and sustained attacks by Iraq in an eight-year war. Many policy-makers today share a weary wish that Iran would somehow just disappear as a problem. But with Iran's continuing commitment to a nuclear programme and its reputation as a trouble-maker in Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere, this is unlikely any time soon. An unending stream of assertions about the revolution's finally running down continue to be defied by events, and Iran's institutions are still formidable. This is the definitive history of this subject, from one of the world's principal experts.
The best single-volume analysis of Burma, its checkered history, and its attempts to reform Burma is one of the largest countries in Southeast Asia and was once one of its richest. Under successive military regimes, however, the country eventually ended up as one of the poorest countries in Asia, a byword for repression and ethnic violence. Richard Cockett spent years in the region as a correspondent for The Economist and witnessed firsthand the vicious sectarian politics of the Burmese government, and later, also, its surprising attempts at political and social reform. Cockett's enlightening history, from the colonial era on, explains how Burma descended into decades of civil war and authoritarian government. Taking advantage of the opening up of the country since 2011, Cockett has interviewed hundreds of former political prisoners, guerilla fighters, ministers, monks, and others to give a vivid account of life under one of the most brutal regimes in the world. In many cases, this is the first time that they have been able to tell their stories to the outside world.Cockett also explains why the regime has started to reform, and why these reforms will not go as far as many people had hoped. This is the most rounded survey to date of this volatile Asian nation.
The deadliest animal of all time meets the world's most legendary hunter in a classic battle between man and wild. But this pulse-pounding narrative is also a nuanced story of how colonialism and environmental destruction upset the natural order, placing man, tiger and nature on a collision course. In Champawat, India, circa 1900, a Bengal tigress was wounded by a poacher in the forests of the Himalayan foothills. Unable to hunt her usual prey, the tiger began stalking and eating an easier food source: human beings. Between 1900 and 1907, the Champawat Man-Eater, as she became known, emerged as the most prolific serial killer of human beings the world has ever known, claiming an astonishing 436 lives. Desperate for help, authorities appealed to renowned local hunter Jim Corbett, an Indian-born Brit of Irish descent, who was intimately familiar with the Champawat forest. Corbett, who would later earn fame and devote the latter part of his life to saving the Bengal tiger and its habitat, sprang into action. Like a detective on the tail of a serial killer, he tracked the tiger's movements, as the tiger began to hunt him in return. This was the beginning of Corbett's life-long love of tigers, though his first encounter with the Champawat Tiger would be her last.
Islamic civilization was once the envy of the world. From a succession of glittering, cosmopolitan capitals, Islamic empires lorded it over the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and swathes of the Indian subcontinent, while Europe cowered feebly at the margins. For centuries the caliphate was both ascendant on the battlefield and triumphant in the battle of ideas, its cities unrivalled powerhouses of artistic grandeur, commercial power, spiritual sanctity and forward-looking thinking, in which nothing was off limits. Islamic Empires is a history of this rich and diverse civilization told through its greatest cities over the fifteen centuries of Islam, from its earliest beginnings in Mecca in the seventh century to the astonishing rise of Doha in the twenty-first. It dwells on the most remarkable dynasties ever to lead the Muslim world - the Abbasids of Baghdad, the Umayyads of Damascus and Cordoba, the Merinids of Fez, the Ottomans of Istanbul, the Mughals of India and the Safavids of Isfahan - and some of the most charismatic leaders in Muslim history, from Saladin in Cairo and mighty Tamerlane of Samarkand to the poet-prince Babur in his mountain kingdom of Kabul and the irrepressible Maktoum dynasty of Dubai. It focuses on these fifteen cities at some of the defining moments in Islamic history: from the Prophet Mohammed receiving his divine revelations in Mecca and the First Crusade of 1099 to the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and the phenomenal creation of the merchant republic of Beirut in the nineteenth century.
Japan is one of the world's most important societies, yet remains one of the least understood. This book is designed to fill the gap for a concise but thought-provoking introduction to all aspects of the country's political, economic and social life set in a clear historical context. The author's starting-point is that the study of Japan is 'contested territory' where even such apparently simple questions such as 'Who is in charge?' spark considerable disagreement and controversy among experts. To understand contemporary Japan, Duncan McCargo argues, it is necessary to get to grips with a range of different perspectives on Japanese political and social structures. Integrating contrasting perspectives throughout, the core chapters of the book focus on the changing economy, government and politics, society and culture, and Japan's place in the wider world. The new third edition of this popular text has been fully revised and updated throughout to cover key developments such as the historic end of LDP rule in 2009. This accessible and lively book will be essential reading both for students and general readers who want to know more about this important country.
The definitive history of the Middle East, now updated in its fifth edition 'The best overall survey of the politics, regional rivalries and economics of the contemporary Arab world' Washington Post Over the centuries the Middle East has confounded the dreams of conquerors and peacemakers alike. This now-classic book follows the historic struggles of the region over the last two hundred years, from Napoleon's assault on Egypt, through the slow decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire, to the painful emergence of modern nations. It is now fully updated with extensive new material examining recent developments including the aftermaths of the 'Arab Spring', the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict and the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars. 'An excellent political overview' Guardian
This is a fresh and surprising account of Japan's culture from the 'opening up' of the country in the mid-nineteenth century to the present. 'How much I admired it, what a lot I learned from it and, above all, how very much I enjoyed it ... Masterly.' Neil MacGregor It is told through the eyes of people who greeted this change not with the confidence and grasping ambition of Japan's modernizers and nationalists, but with resistance, conflict, distress. We encounter writers of dramas, ghost stories and crime novels where modernity itself is the tragedy, the ghoul and the bad guy; surrealist and avant-garde artists sketching their escape; rebel kamikaze pilots and the put-upon urban poor; hypnotists and gangsters; men in desperate search of the eternal feminine and feminists in search of something more than state-sanctioned subservience; Buddhists without morals; Marxist terror groups; couches full to bursting with the psychological fall-out of breakneck modernization. These people all sprang from the soil of modern Japan, but their personalities and projects failed to fit. They were 'dark blossoms': both East-West hybrids and home-grown varieties that wreathed, probed and sometimes penetrated the new structures of mainstream Japan.
Daraya lies on the fringe of Damascus, just south west of the Syrian Capital. Yet it lives in another world. Besieged by Syrian government forces since 2011, its people were deprived of food, bombarded by bombs and missiles, and shot at by snipers. Its buildings lay in ruins; office buildings, shops and family homes shattered by the constant shelling from government forces. But deep beneath this scene of frightening devastation lay a secret library.
No signs marked its presence. While the streets above echoed with rifle fire and shelling, the secret world below was a haven of peace and tranquillity. Books, long rows of them, lined almost every wall. Bloated volumes with grand leather covers. Tattered old tomes with barely readable spines. Pocket sized guides to Syrian poetry. Religious works with gaudy gold-lettering and no-nonsense reference books, all arranged in well-ordered lines. But this precious horde of books was not bought from publishers, book warehouses, or loaned by other libraries. Many people had risked their lives to save books from the devastation of war. Because to them, the secret library was a symbol of hope - of their determination to lead a meaningful existence and to rebuild their fractured society.
This is the story of an extraordinary place and the people who made it happen. It is also a book about human resilience and values. And through it all is threaded the very wonderful, universal love for books and the hope they can bring.
Daraya lies on the fringe of Damascus, just south west of the Syrian Capital. Yet it lives in another world. Besieged by Syrian government forces since 2011, its people were deprived of food, bombarded by bombs and missiles, and shot at by snipers. Its buildings lay in ruins; office buildings, shops and family homes shattered by the constant shelling from government forces. But deep beneath this scene of frightening devastation lay a secret library. No signs marked its presence. While the streets above echoed with rifle fire and shelling, the secret world below was a haven of peace and tranquillity. Books, long rows of them, lined almost every wall. Bloated volumes with grand leather covers. Tattered old tomes with barely readable spines. Pocket sized guides to Syrian poetry. Religious works with gaudy gold-lettering and no-nonsense reference books, all arranged in well-ordered lines. But this precious horde of books was not bought from publishers, book warehouses, or loaned by other libraries. Many people had risked their lives to save books from the devastation of war. Because to them, the secret library was a symbol of hope - of their determination to lead a meaningful existence and to rebuild their fractured society. This is the story of an extraordinary place and the people who made it happen. It is also a book about human resilience and values. And through it all is threaded the very wonderful, universal love for books and the hope they can bring. "Just like the body needs food the soul needs books." Anas Habib (library user)
During the postwar period of 1948-56, over 400,000 Jews from the Middle East and Asia immigrated to the newly established state of Israel. By the end of the 1950s, Mizrahim, also known as Oriental Jewry, represented the ethnic majority of the Israeli Jewish population. Despite their large numbers, Mizrahim were considered outsiders because of their non-European origins. Viewed as foreigners who came from culturally backward and distant lands, they suffered decades of socioeconomic, political, and educational injustices. In this pioneering work, Roby traces the Mizrahi population's struggle for equality and civil rights in Israel. Although the daily ""bread and work"" demonstrations are considered the first political expression of the Mizrahim, Roby demonstrates the myriad ways in which they agitated for change. Drawing upon a wealth of archival sources, many only recently declassified, Roby details the activities of the highly ideological and politicized young Israel. Police reports, court transcripts, and protester accounts document a diverse range of resistance tactics, including sit-ins, tent protests, and hunger strikes. Roby shows how the Mizrahi intellectuals and activists in the 1960s began to take note of the American civil rights movement, gaining inspiration from its development and drawing parallels between their experience and that of other marginalized ethnic groups. The Mizrahi Era of Rebellion shines a light on a largely forgotten part of Israeli social history, one that profoundly shaped the way Jews from African and Asian countries engaged with the newly founded state of Israel.
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