Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Guest Post: Naill and Mary Falls Dish on International Affairs

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Mary Falls

Mary Falls is a fearless traveler, dedicated volunteer, inspired hostess, and former legal eagle – and she reads the way most people breathe!  Mary does not have much patience with a grammatical error, but has loved reading to her three children for many years.  Charles Dickens is a favorite.  Today she serves up a review of My Promised Land:  The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, by Ari Shavit.

From Mary:  This ain’t the bacon on the bookshelf; this book is the whole hog!  After reading the reviews of this book, I was 9780385521703_p0_v3_s114x166eager to dive in.  The author, Ari Shavit, is a widely-acclaimed journalist and member of the editorial board of Haaretz, perhaps the most respected news outlet in Israel.  The book examines the Zionist movement and the creation and development of the State of Israel from the perspectives of secular and religious Jews as well as from the perspectives of a sampling of the Palestinian Arab diaspora.  It has been pointed out that the book was written in English with the American market in mind.  However, given the thorny nationalist and religious issues the book tackles, it is oft noted that My Promised Land could only have been written and sold by an Israeli.  Shavit acknowledges as much.  He tenderly probes the political rift between Israelis and Arabs and the increasing religious rift between Jews and Muslims in the region.  Shavit makes clear the distinction between the political and religious issues in Israel-Palestine conflict and the conflation of the two in the American media.  While I believe that the book was diminished by the inclusion of the seemingly tacked-on final chapter, I fully endorse Thomas Friedman’s description of My Promised Land as a “must read.”

Naill Falls – attorney debonaire, extraordinaire – enjoys a glass of champagne when not otherwise engaged.  You won’t find him away from his clients for long, though!  As a child, he loved The Call of the Wild; if pressed for current favorite authors, he would call it even between J.D. Salinger and Michael Chabon.  Today he reviews The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, by Stephen Kinzer.  Cheers!

9780805094978_p0_v2_s114x166From Naill:  In 1966, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair William Fulbright published an influential book entitled Arrogance of Power.  The same title might have been used in Stephen Kinzer’s book The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War.  The Dulles brothers, who were Secretary of State and head of the CIA during much of the Cold War, were born into a family closely connected to wealth and political power.  These connections, coupled with powerful intellects and boundless ambition, fueled spectacular legal and political careers during which both brothers developed a blinding belief that what was good for American corporations would also benefit countries in which the U.S. had business and/or political interests.  This paternalistic doctrine resulted in foreign policies and interventions that caused great harm abroad and, ultimately, harm to the U.S.  Kinzer’s work is important reading for anyone concerned about international affairs.

3 Comments

  1. Mary is indeed an expert in the field of recommending books. Thanks, Mary and Jennifer.
    Also, a shout out to Naill. I loved how he got to post a rec at the bottom, too!

  2. Thank you, Mary!!! Delighted to learn that I’m not alone in putting down a book if it isn’t grabbing my attention quickly!

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