I'm trying a book diary... Feels like a primary school exercise.
May 2013 -
April 2013 - Righteous Victims by Benny Morris. The most comprehensive account of the Middle East conflict, but I think it loses it a bit after Sadat comes to Jerusalem and the conclusion was a bit weak.
January 2013 - The Chosen Few - Eckstein and Botticini - An amazing book about Jewish demographics between the first century CE and the 15th century. The authors argue that in the second century the Rabbinical leaders of the Jews took a decision to make literacy compulsory, even ordering that illiterate Jews be boycotted. As a result there was a massive movement of Jews into Christianity (which made no such demands) while the structure of Jewish occupations switched to a focus on trade, manufacture, money lending and other occupations where literacy was an advantage. In particular there was a massive movement of Jews out of agriculture.
a lot of the material they use is based on the Cairo Geniza.
26 December 2012 - Five to Rule Them All - David Bosco - Few people seem aware that the UN Security Council pretty much runs the UN. I got his book because I felt I needed to better understand how it works, at first look I thought it was a mistake (I got it from Amazon) but its proving a real eye-opener.
9 December 2012 - The Most Human Human - Brian Christian - Nettie passed this on to me, apparently she got it following Fabiano's recomendation. A brilliantly original book and an excellent insight into making conversation by analyzing how computers fake human chat.
30 November 2012 - Bible and Sword - Barbara Tuchman - A re-read, I read this years ago. This time I particularly noticed the superb conclusion explaining why the British took over 'Palestine'. she thinks the Balfour Declaration was basically a justification for conquest. The British needed a strong justification for such a contested land and their real interest was protecting Suez and the route to India. Its interesting how many different explanations one gets for the Balfour declaration (anti-semitic influences, desire for Jewish support, Weizmann's chemistry, evangelical influences). I think the variety of explanations reflects how many different needs the declaration met and that juxtaposition is what led to it being made.
Although Zionism and Arab Nationalism are at loggerheads over Palestine (or perhaps Southern Syria), the two have a certain amount in common...
In 1948 the Palestinians were sure they couldn't fail, they outnumbered the Jews two to one and had the support of all the Arab states. ...
Hope I grew up knowing very little about my birth grandmother - not even her name - although I knew that she had been killed in the Holoca...
I had a chat with my sister yesterday. She lives in Rome, and tells me that a friend of hers read about my grandmother's passport (I ha...