• Enemies and Neighbors

  • Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel, 1917-2017
  • By: Ian Black
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Length: 20 hrs and 4 mins
  • Categories: History, Middle East
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (33 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In Enemies and Neighbors, Ian Black, who has spent over three decades covering events in the Middle East and is currently a fellow at the London School of Economics, offers a major new history of the Arab-Zionist conflict from 1917 to today. Laying the historical groundwork in the final decades of the Ottoman Era, when the first Zionist settlers arrived in the Holy Land, Black draws on a wide range of sources - from declassified documents to oral histories to his own vivid on-the-ground reporting - to recreate the major milestones in the most polarizing conflict of the modern age from both sides.

In the third year of World War I, the seed was planted for an inevitable clash: Jerusalem Governor Izzat Pasha surrendered to British troops and Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issued a fateful document sympathizing with the establishment of "a national home for the Jewish people". The chronicle takes us through the Arab rebellion of the 1930s; the long shadow of the Nazi Holocaust; the war of 1948 - culminating in Israel's independence and the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe); the "cursed victory" of the Six-Day War of 1967 and the Palestinian re-awakening; the first and second Intifadas; the Oslo Accords; and other failed peace negotiations and continued violence up to 2017.

©2017 Ian Black (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Enemies and Neighbors

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Informative but Dry

The author seems neutral and unbiased on a very polarizing subject. Lots of information to absorb on a decades long conflict

1 person found this helpful

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History Overwhelmed by Details

I found this not a good book to listen to. It's very long (20 hours) and, for me, main events and important points got lost in the excruciating detailing of events. The narrator, whose voice I found wearing, didn't help. I may buy it as a reference book, but in the end, the history overall is sadly rather simple.

2 people found this helpful

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thorough if dated

the detailed history stops about 2016, so it leaves out a lot of Netanyahu, Trump.

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Decent historical compilation, poor framing

I have mixed feelings about this book. I’ve read a lot of content on the Arab-Israeli conflict and there is definitely some worthwhile historical content compiled in the text. The effort to make an ostensibly neutral account of the localized conflict over a 100 hundred year period with a focus on the on the ground actors is commendable. However, despite being framed as such, I didn’t get the sense that the author is actually neutral. He isn’t a party to the dispute of course, but it’s very obvious early on his sympathies are not with Zionism in the least. I felt there was a far greater focus on portrayed misdeeds of Jews, while insertion of instances of Arab aggression or mitigating circumstances are put forward flatly and with no elaboration or analysis (in contrast to lengthy discussions of negative impacts of Zionism while overlooking other factors). This gives a skewed impression. The narrow framing of the book as confined to 1917-2017 and solely focusing on Palestine/Israel itself also presents a warped picture if a reader goes into the text expecting a true overview. Starting at 1917 (actually he briefly touches on the late 1800s) presents a picture of a static Palestine without regard to the fluidity of the area’s demographics over a long historical period. Additionally, by adopting a local focus important phenomena in Europe and the wider Arab world are mostly left out. Under such a framing the conflict appears more simplistic and clear cut then it actually is. The narrator Michael Page sounds a little condescending as always, but I still enjoy his narration. Overall a solid piece of historical writing, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone looking for an overall understanding of the conflict because of its relatively narrow scope (in both time and location). If one is already familiar with the issue and looking for a more localized and individual human history of the conflict this may be worth considering. But I’d personally have been better off not buying it.

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An Unabashed Travesty

I have read some thirty books on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Nearly all of them take sides in terms of style and selection of facts. I accept that as it is inevitable when reading any history, yet I read them anyway to make sure I understand both perspectives. This book (which I forced myself to complete,) stands out as the most distorted and misleading so far. How an author and publisher could produce a history of this terrible conflict covering a century and virtually excise the role of radical Islamic ideology is an affront to the discipline of history. I will offer two examples that illustrate the point; The meeting between Al Husaini and Hitler is reduced to a single sentence. Never mind they conspired to commit genocide. The bombing of the King David hotel brazenly omits the warnings to evacuate that were ignored. If you are eager to thoroughly distort your understanding of this conflict, by all means, listen to this book. But if you do, I recommend reading Alan Dershowitz's "the case for Israel" and "the case against Israel's enemies". Together, they are shorter than this travesty and offer facts before propaganda. It would go a long way in further cultivating your Intellectual integrity.