DAWN OF THE PROMISED LAND by Ben Wicks

DAWN OF THE PROMISED LAND

The Creation of Israel
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An overly brief history of the struggle for a Jewish state, from the British conquest of Palestine during WWI (1917) through Israel’s war of independence and its first year of nationhood (1949). Canadian journalist Wicks (No Time to Wave Goodbye, 1989) combed through memoirs by figures well known (e.g., Shimon Peres, who also wrote the book’s introduction) and obscure, and intertwines them here with a narrative account of the history of the yishuv (Jewish community in mandatory Palestine) and the new state. He favors autobiographical reports by individuals from English-speaking countries, and relies too little on Hebrew testimonials. But Wicks does offer excerpts from some particularly vivid narratives about refugees’ struggles before, during, and after the Holocaust to enter Palestine. For example, one Holocaust survivor recounts a 1947 voyage by foot from her native Vienna to Italy that included an 11-hour trek during the night over the Brenner Pass. Also important and revealing is an account—at four pages, the book’s longest—of the difficult adjustments faced by Jews from Middle Eastern countries in the new state’s development towns. Upon arriving in Qiryat Ono from Iraq, a refugee recalls, “we were each given a bed, some thin blankets, a loaf and a few cans of food. At night, we saw all kinds of creeping creatures on the thick material the tent was made of . . . I was really devastated and upset. This was not what I had dreamt about. But I knew that we had no choice.” Unfortunately, Wicks’s own narrative is spotty, covering too much material too quickly. He also launches generalizations that seen questionable or incorrect. In this, Israel’s 50th year of statehood, his book hould answer the questions of anyone unfamiliar with the Jews’ great effort to enter, settle, and secure their land. But several other histories and memoirs (e.g., Ton Segev’s The First Israelis) do a better job of telling the same story. (50 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 1998
ISBN: 0-7868-6322-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1998




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