5 Books About Palestine and Its’ History
We have gathered what we believe to be the top five best books about Palestine and its history. There were many great contenders for this list, but we narrowed it down to the five that best encompass Palestine in its entirety.
Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History by Nureldeen Masalha
Masalha is one of the most well-read authors on the topic of Palestine. He has the ability to offer readers a look into the 4,000 year history of Palestine in a way that makes it easy to grasp. The reader is able to get a glimpse into the complexities of what makes a Palestinian a Palestinian. Culture, languages, trade, and even first hand accounts from commentators ranging from Aristotle to Ptolemy. Masalha is even able to give readers historical evidence for the existence of Palestine, which has long been debated, and debunk many dangerous myths. This book encapsulates everything a person needs to be familiar with Palestine and we highly recommend.
“This rich and magisterial work traces Palestine's millennia-old heritage, uncovering cultures and societies of astounding depth and complexity that stretch back to the very beginnings of recorded history. Starting with the earliest references in Egyptian and Assyrian texts, Nur Masalha explores how Palestine and its Palestinian identity have evolved over thousands of years, from the Bronze Age to the present day. Drawing on a rich body of sources and the latest archaeological evidence, Masalha shows how Palestine's multicultural past has been distorted and mythologised by Biblical lore and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In the process, Masalha reveals that the concept of Palestine, contrary to accepted belief, is not a modern invention or one constructed in opposition to Israel, but rooted firmly in the ancient past. Palestine represents the authoritative account of the country's history.”
Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
A multi-generational story of a singular Palestinian family told in quite the compelling way. The author, Susan Abulhawa, captures the story of the Abuelhejo family as they struggle for half a century being “locked” away from their home. Abulhawa has the extraordinary ability to ground the conflict in humanity, and the ending is quite remarkable. This story is the perfect blend of fiction and non-fiction, and is definitely a top pick.
“The novel's voice is that of Amal, the granddaughter of the old village patriarch, a bright, sensitive girl who makes it out of the camps, only to return years later, to marry and bear a child. Through her eyes, with her evolving vision, we get the story of her brothers, one who is kidnapped to be raised Jewish, one who will end with bombs strapped to his middle. But of the many interwoven stories, stretching backward and forward in time, none is more important than Amal's own. Her story is one of love and loss, of childhood and marriage and parenthood, and finally the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has”
Threads of Identity: Preserving Palestinian Costume and Heritage by Widad Kawar
Widad Kawar takes readers on an adventure through the history of 20th century Palesinian Women, covering traditional dresses, textiles and rug weaving, rural and urban customs, cuisine, and festivities.
A quick overview of the novel sums up how intriguing Kawar made clothing to the average person: “This book is a record of the 50 years Widad Kawar spent researching, collecting and preserving part of the heritage of Palestine. This endeavor evolved into the Widad Kawar Collection, the largest to date of Palestinian, Jordanian and other Arab traditional dress and accessories, comprising more than 2,000 items. In the following chapters she presents the story of how the collection evolved and she introduces the life stories of the women who produced the beautiful costumes it contains. For her, each item calls to mind an individual or a place: a wife, a mother, a daughter, a family, a house, a village, a town, a field, a market”.
Tatreez & Tea: Embroidery and Storytelling in the Palestinian Diaspora by Wafa Ghnaim
Tatreez & Tea goes back to the basics. The novel is written as if it is a mother telling her daughter about Palesinitan history over a nice cup of Shai (tea). Every chapter takes a different style of Tatreez and Ghnaim decontructs it and then helps the reader understand the importance of every stitch.
Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color by Michael Fischbach
The novel is probably our top pick at the moment for many reasons. We are currently in this generation's Civil Rights Movement, and it is important to recognize the influence Black Americans had on the Pro-Palestine movement in America. Another being the current unfair treatment of Black Palestinians and Jews in the apartheid state. Michael Fischbach gives insight to how the Civil Rights Movement and the Pro-Palestine movement in the 60’s and 70’s greatly influenced each other.
A quick overview: The 1967 Arab-Israeli War rocketed the question of Israel and Palestine onto the front pages of American newspapers. Black Power activists saw Palestinians as a kindred people of color, waging the same struggle for freedom and justice as themselves. Soon concerns over the Arab-Israeli conflict spread across mainstream black politics and into the heart of the civil rights movement itself. Black Power and Palestine uncovers why so many African Americans--notably Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali, among others--came to support the Palestinians or felt the need to respond to those who did