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Another combined memoir and social commentary about what life is really like in Israel. As seen through Hazleton's eyes, it is a country with a tortured soul, agonizing over the moral consequences of military triumph, i.e., how to control large numbers of foreigners. Hazleton had left Jerusalem after living there for 13 years, only to return five years later, drawn back by reasons she wishes to deduce from an examination that led to this book. The answer seems to be a combination of mystic call and the realization that ordinary life is dull everywhere else when compared to Jerusalem. Hazleton, an unrepentant dove, delights in making deliberately provocative statements to her lovers, her friends, her enemies, and anyone else she can get, willing or not, to listen. Her book concerns her encounters with a post-Begin Israel, one that she wants desperately to live up to her vision. She seems especially angry at the religious control over significant parts of Israeli society, and how such control can manifest itself in intolerance toward secular Jews and toward Arabs. In her quest, she recalls local legends, reviews her own life, and ponders leaving, all for the sake of seeking to define the magnetic force that draws her back, to understand why nowhere else could be home--and to fathom how the Israeli soul can be saved. This is an honest book, full of criticisms (often not fully examined, but always heartfelt). It is unfailingly well-written, with an eye that pierces facades and posturings. If there are no novel political insights, no practical solutions to the problems besetting Israel, this book nevertheless works like fiction, drawing us into a search for home and identity in a compelling way.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1986
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly--dist. by Little, Brown