Authors and Books

The Field of Blood by Nicholas Morton

Nicholas Morton's new book on the formative years of the Crusader states is a delight on multiple levels.  The Field of Blood: The Battle for Aleppo and the Remaking of the Medieval Middle East provides an illuminating survey of the Levantine region in the period immediately after the Christian Frank incursion, when Jerusalem was the…

20th Century Palestine

The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas

The publisher of The Last Palestinian touts it as the first book in English to profile Mahmoud Abbas, the man who succeeded Yasser Arafat as leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and has since been the titular head of the Palestinian national movement. Astonishingly, the publisher’s claim appears to be true, and co-authors Grant Rumley…

Sari Nusseibeh The Story of Reason in Islam
Authors and Books

The Story of Reason in Islam by Sari Nusseibeh

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

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

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…)