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by Irris Makler

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7322-9416-8
Publisher: HarperCollins 360

The perils and pleasures of daily life in Israel.

In 2002, freelance journalist Makler (Our Woman in Kabul, 2003), “always chasing work,” moved from Moscow to Jerusalem. Palestine’s Second Intifada was inciting violent unrest, with suicide attacks and bombings occurring daily. “The city was literally exploding,” Makler writes. “Israeli media was fizzing.” At the urging of a friend, a BBC foreign correspondent, the author decided to stay in Israel. Within a few months, besides constant reporting, she fell in love with a young musician and actor, and the couple adopted an endearing, energetic dog, Mia. Throughout the narrative, Makler weaves the personal and political: tense border crossings and shopping at IKEA; observing political negotiations and negotiating her relationship with her boyfriend; chasing suicide bombings and chasing Mia. Besides lengthy recountings of Mia’s antics and adventures, Makler portrays a reality of living with constant threats—e.g., a friend out buying pizza was one store away from a devastating bombing in a cafe; if he had gone in for coffee, he would have been blown up. Makler herself was hit during a stone-throwing rampage; her jaw was broken, but if she had turned a fraction of an inch, she would have been blinded or killed. She was always on call, always ready to travel. In the summer of 2005, for example, she took a long, arduous trip to the desert to report on Israel’s fraught withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, an action passionately resisted by some settlers who insisted they would leave only by force. After soldiers calmly completed the evacuation, they complied with Palestinian demands to raze the town, and Makler witnessed the bulldozing of every building, including synagogues. “It was a strange, painful sight,” she writes, “given Jewish history in Europe, to watch Jews destroying synagogues” and unearthing Jewish graves.

Makler’s memoir offers a close-up view of life in a volatile region and the pressures and risks of her daring profession.