Academic journal article Shofar

A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel

Academic journal article Shofar

A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel

Article excerpt

A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel, by Gudrun Kramer. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. 357 pp. $38.50.

Is this just another book concerned with the Jewish-Arab struggle over Palestine? Will we read yet another version of this topic which has already been discussed in many books?

Yes and no, and the no is greater, because this is a different kind of book, which gives us a fresh view of the history of this troubled area - Palestine, Eretz Israel, Philastin, Terra Sancta - the very well known small area which has become one of the most important places in world politics. Kramer's book is basically a social history that deals with the day-to-day life of the country in the period that began in the sixteenth century with the Ottoman occupation, when the area was of no importance to anybody, Jews, Christians, or Moslems, and ended in 1948, when the eyes of the world were focused on it. Dealing with a period of about 450 years is a great task, but Kramer's book does it well. The political history of Palestine is merely a framework to the real subject of the book, which is the people who lived in that area or immigrated to Palestine as an outcome of political and ideological changes. For those who do not know the historical story, it is presented in a way everybody can agree with. It is not the Jewish story, it is not the Arab story, and it is not even the Ottoman or the British story. It is "pure" history, and this is one of the main achievements of the book. But, as said befóte, it is primarily the story of the people who lived there, most of them Arabs, who were influenced by the modernization process brought to them by the different agents - immigrant European Jews, British officials, French merchants, and others. …

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