If you are looking for a “fresh,” “riveting” and “engaging” summer read about the history of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, pick up a copy of Rich Cohen’s Israel is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and Its History. The book just came out a few weeks ago, and New York Times book reviewer Tony Horwitz could not get enough of it.
Horwitz’ review is a fun read as well – get the full review here – but my favorite Horwitz quote is the following:
Cohen often riffs like this, swooping across centuries and continents to connect far-flung dots of Jewish history. The results aren’t always convincing (is Superman’s cape really a Jewish prayer shawl?), but they seldom fail to be provocative and entertaining. This breezy irreverence helps centuries of Talmud and exile go down easy.
If you pick up a copy of Israel is Real, let us know your thoughts. Does Cohen’s book help you make sense of our convoluted history? Is Horwitz right that the Arab characters don’t get the same depth of coverage as the Jewish heroes in Cohen’s story? How does Cohen leave you feeling about the potential for peace for Israel in the future? For those with more Jewish knowledge than I – is Cohen’s book accurate or does it gloss over certain elements of our history in an attempt to reach a wider audience?
Cohen is also the author of the well-received Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams (read the NY Times book review).