20th Century Palestine

A New Biography of Mahmoud Abbas

July 30, 2017

Read my review of a new profile by of Mahmoud Abbas by Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon in the Washington Independent Review of Books. Abbas succeeded Yasser Arafat and since 2005 has been president of the Palestinian National Authority. This review of Abbas' life succeeds at being brisk and objective, but steers clear of some…

Sari Nusseibeh The Story of Reason in Islam
Authors and Books

The Story of Reason in Islam by Sari Nusseibeh

November 14, 2016

As a Westerner for whom the intellectual history of Islam is something of a mystery, reading Sari Nusseibeh’s timely and sweeping new book was like swimming on the surface of an unfamiliar ocean. This delightful survey is packed with intriguing details of what the giants of Islamic thought struggled with and argued about, but ultimately…

Mandelbaum Gate Jerusalem
20th Century Palestine

Kai Bird’s Crossing Mandelbaum Gate

February 5, 2016

While doing background reading on the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, I came across Kai Bird's poignant and insightful account of his childhood as the son of American consular officials who served in Israel and Palestine, and who later moved their family to a new assignment in Saudi Arabia in the mid-60's and early…

Barbara Tuchman 1971
20th Century Palestine

Encountering Bible and Sword by Barbara Tuchman

January 28, 2015

Last weekend I faced a solitary thousand-mile roundtrip drive from the Bay Area to San Diego down the largely featureless California Central Valley, a chore that became a delight as I spent the time listening to a book I’d never read, Bible and Sword, by a writer I’ve long admired, Barbara Tuchman. (more…)