100 books like Gaza

By Norman Finkelstein,

Here are 100 books that Gaza fans have personally recommended if you like Gaza. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Jere Van Dyk Author Of Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban

From my list on courage, camaraderie, and survival in the face of danger.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Washington State. My father and my uncles fought in WWII; one was captured in Africa, and one was the first to fly over the Himalayas. My father wanted me to be a missionary, but I was drawn to the world. I became a runner and loved the camaraderie in track and field, but I was uncomfortable in college and didn't like my coach. I wanted to go far away. I began my career as an aide in the U.S. Senate but left and became a journalist in Afghanistan. Each of these books is a story of courage, camaraderie, and survival. I hope you enjoy them.

Jere's book list on courage, camaraderie, and survival in the face of danger

Jere Van Dyk Why did Jere love this book?

The mystery of the first paragraph drew me in, what he called "the evil of his tale," leading a guerrilla war in the Arabian desert in World War I.

I knew about the burning heat and the wind, of letting a camel find the water and the bitter cold at night, and I am in awe of his strength in fighting the Ottoman Turks. I love his descriptive writing of the wind, and the silence of a Crusader castle. He wrote at Shepherds Hotel in Cairo, left his manuscript on a train in a London station, and had to start over.

"At the bottom, we crossed the flat Gaa, matching our camels in a burst over its velvet surface until we overtook the main body and scattered them with the excitement of our gallop." It was romantic., but... "Round the bend, whistling its loudest, came the train...I touched off the…

By T. E. Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Seven Pillars of Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an Introduction by Angus Calder.

As Angus Calder states in his introduction to this edition, 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the major statements about the fighting experience of the First World War'. Lawrence's younger brothers, Frank and Will, had been killed on the Western Front in 1915. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, written between 1919 and 1926, tells of the vastly different campaign against the Turks in the Middle East - one which encompasses gross acts of cruelty and revenge and ends in a welter of stink and corpses in the disgusting 'hospital' in Damascus.

Seven Pillars of…


Book cover of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

David Stansfield Author Of The Making of a Suicide Bomber

From my list on understanding the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I have been obsessed with the Arabic language and culture. In 1959, I studied this language at Durham University, graduating Summa Cum Laude – including living with a Palestinian family in Jerusalem for a number of months. Then moving on to further studies in Arabic at Cambridge University, graduating with a First Class Honors degree. Over the next decades, I have made many trips to the Middle East, working on a number of projects, including stints in North Africa, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jerusalem, Kuwait, and the Persian Gulf. Most recently, I served as the Arabic consultant on the Netflix TV series House of Cards.

David's book list on understanding the Middle East

David Stansfield Why did David love this book?

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe revisits the formation of the State of Israel. Between 1947 and 1949, over 400 Palestinian villages were deliberately destroyed, civilians were massacred and around a million men, women, and children were expelled from their homes at gunpoint. If this had happened today it would have been called "ethnic cleansing". Totally debunking the myth that the Palestinian population left of their own accord in the course of this war, Ilan Pappe offers stunning archival evidence to show that, from its very inception, a central plank in Israel’s founding ideology was the forcible removal of the indigenous population.

By Ilan Pappé,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Renowned Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe's groundbreaking book revisits the formation of the State of Israel. Between 1947 and 1949, over 400 Palestinian villages were deliberately destroyed, civilians were massacred and around a million men, women, and children were expelled from their homes at gunpoint.

Denied for almost six decades, had it happened today it could only have been called "ethnic cleansing". Decisively debunking the myth that the Palestinian population left of their own accord in the course of this war, Ilan Pappe offers impressive archival evidence to demonstrate that, from its very inception, a central plank in Israel's founding ideology…


Book cover of Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History

David Stansfield Author Of The Making of a Suicide Bomber

From my list on understanding the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I have been obsessed with the Arabic language and culture. In 1959, I studied this language at Durham University, graduating Summa Cum Laude – including living with a Palestinian family in Jerusalem for a number of months. Then moving on to further studies in Arabic at Cambridge University, graduating with a First Class Honors degree. Over the next decades, I have made many trips to the Middle East, working on a number of projects, including stints in North Africa, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jerusalem, Kuwait, and the Persian Gulf. Most recently, I served as the Arabic consultant on the Netflix TV series House of Cards.

David's book list on understanding the Middle East

David Stansfield Why did David love this book?

The Palestinian writer, Nur Masalha, traces Palestine's thousands of years old heritage, uncovering cultures and societies of extraordinary 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. 

By Nur Masalha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Palestine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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…


Book cover of Orientalism

Radhika Natarajan Author Of Hear Our Voices: A Powerful Retelling of the British Empire Through 20 True Stories

From my list on why imperial history matters today.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became interested in the history of the British Empire as an undergraduate. Understanding this history helped me relate my parents’ experiences growing up in a postcolonial nation with the history of the United States, where I grew up. As an academic historian, my research and teaching emphasize connections—between disparate places, between the past and present, and between our personal experiences and those of people born in distant times and places. My first children’s book allowed me to translate my scholarly work for a young audience. I hope this list of books that inspire my approach to history encourages your own investigations of imperialism and its pasts!

Radhika's book list on why imperial history matters today

Radhika Natarajan Why did Radhika love this book?

Reading Edward Said’s book as an undergraduate expanded my intellectual horizons and made me want to be a historian. Said showed that empire not only included the events—war, exploitation, extraction—that happened “out there” but also shaped metropolitan ways of knowing about and relating to areas of the world under colonial domination.

Said shows us that the power to know about a place and its people and to shape how that place and its people are known was central to the consolidation of imperial rule in the nineteenth century and its continuance in the twentieth.

More than that, however, Said showed the fundamental continuity between forms of knowledge in the past and structures of imperial power in the present. Imperialism is an unfinished history.

By Edward W. Said,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Orientalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The seminal work that has redefined our understanding of colonialism and empire, with a preface by the author

'Stimulating, elegant and pugnacious' Observer
'Magisterial' Terry Eagleton

In this highly-acclaimed work, Edward Said surveys the history and nature of Western attitudes towards the East, considering orientalism as a powerful European ideological creation - a way for writers, philosophers and colonial administrators to deal with the 'otherness' of eastern culture, customs and beliefs. He traces this view through the writings of Homer, Nerval and Flaubert, Disraeli and Kipling, whose imaginative depictions have greatly contributed to the West's romantic and exotic picture of…


Book cover of Palestine

Nic Watts Author Of Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History

From my list on political graphic novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as an illustrator and visual storyteller throughout my adult life, illustrating children’s fiction books and comics for educational publications. My educational work focused on publications for kids with special needs, this gave me training in how to communicate visually, very clearly and concisely. I now collaborate with my partner Sakina Karimjee making beautiful graphic novels full-time. Toussaint Louverture is our first; we are now working on our second.

Nic's book list on political graphic novels

Nic Watts Why did Nic love this book?

Joe Saccos’ work has had such an impression on me.

In 1991-1992, Sacco spent two months in the occupied territories, collecting stories for this masterpiece of journalism and comics. He was breaking new ground; Comics Journalism as a form did not really exist before this book.

On the ground, Sacco found that as a cartoonist, he could delve deeper into the experiences of the Palestinians he interviewed; all knew their identities were safe as the book would be drawn, with no identifying photos, no names. Their stories and pain pour forth. 

Looking back on this publication thirty years later, the situation has become far, far worse for Palestinians. This book is an excellent primer to understand the atrocities of the present and the context of their past.

By Joe Sacco,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Palestine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In late l991 and early 1992, at the time of the first Intifada, Joe Sacco spent two months with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, travelling and taking notes. Upon returning to the United States he started writing and drawing Palestine, which combines the techniques of eyewitness reportage with the medium of comic-book storytelling to explore this complex, emotionally weighty situation. He captures the heart of the Palestinian experience in image after unforgettable image, with great insight and remarkable humour.

The nine-issue comics series won a l996 American Book Award. It is now published for the first…


Book cover of Sambac Beneath Unlikely Skies

Selma Dabbagh Author Of Out Of It

From my list on being Palestinian.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father is Palestinian, my mother English. I am a typical diaspora Palestinian, having moved many times. I’m intrigued by what this highly politicized nationality–being Palestinian–does to peoples’ emotions, their desire to be accepted and thrive, their sense of community, their ability to deal with the challenges and joys of political engagement as well as the difficulties of not being political if they choose not to be. Being Palestinian is an extreme case of what humans can be forced to endure as political and social animals. Living under military occupation gives rise to huge sacrifices and pure heroism in the most quotidian way. Acts that deserve recognition.

Selma's book list on being Palestinian

Selma Dabbagh Why did Selma love this book?

This is a slim volume that is playful, sweet, and natural in tone, although the setting, Gaza, is never associated with the playful, the sweet, and the whole regime that governs it is as far from being natural as is feasibly possible. 

I had not read a voice like Heba’s before, warm yet wise beyond her years and full of humor, intelligence, and originality. There is an excellent playlist that ranges from Nina Simone to Mashrou’ Leila, which covers aspects of her life, from fluffy slippers to political debates to the love of family and women. ‘Late capitalism is the bane of my life,’ Hayek writes, ‘sometimes it feels as though these algorithms have encrypted my very brain.’

As a teenager in Gaza, she uses Google Maps to explore cities she cannot access, but when homesick in exile later, in Europe or the US there is an equivalent way of…

By Heba Hayek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sambac Beneath Unlikely Skies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tender yet brutal vignettes on a girlhood in Gaza, Palestine, filled with honey and warmth.

Sambac Beneath Unlikely Skies is written for those who had to leave—collected remembrances of a childhood in Gaza by a woman far from Palestine’s sun and sea. Overindulgent, chaotic and sentimental, Heba Hayek’s narrator struggles to navigate life in colder, unfamiliar worlds. She holds tightly to memories of home, hoping they will lead back to her sisters and mothers.

With brilliance and grace, Hayek’s vignettes explore the methods of survival nurtured by Palestinian women in the face of colonial occupation and patriarchy—the power of community…


Book cover of The Book of Gaza: A City in Short Fiction

Selma Dabbagh Author Of Out Of It

From my list on being Palestinian.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father is Palestinian, my mother English. I am a typical diaspora Palestinian, having moved many times. I’m intrigued by what this highly politicized nationality–being Palestinian–does to peoples’ emotions, their desire to be accepted and thrive, their sense of community, their ability to deal with the challenges and joys of political engagement as well as the difficulties of not being political if they choose not to be. Being Palestinian is an extreme case of what humans can be forced to endure as political and social animals. Living under military occupation gives rise to huge sacrifices and pure heroism in the most quotidian way. Acts that deserve recognition.

Selma's book list on being Palestinian

Selma Dabbagh Why did Selma love this book?

At a time of death and destruction in Gaza, this book is one of the only volumes that brings to the English language reader some of the voices from inside a small strip of land that has been under siege by land, sea, and air for sixteen years.

Although the quality of the writing is variable, I found that the rawness of the collection made the writers seem more intimate. With some gutsy writing by women and tender pieces by men, the anthology subverts assumptions and provides a wide heterogeneity of voices to the fore. 

By Atef Abu Saif (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book of Gaza as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Under the Israeli occupation of the '70s and '80s, writers in Gaza had to go to considerable lengths to ever have a chance of seeing their work in print. Manuscripts were written out longhand, invariably under pseudonyms, and smuggled out of the Strip to Jerusalem, Cairo or Beirut, where they then had to be typed up. Consequently, fiction grew shorter, novels became novellas, and short stories flourished as the city's form of choice. Indeed, to Palestinians elsewhere, Gaza became known as 'the exporter of oranges and short stories'. This anthology brings together some of the pioneers of the Gazan short…


Book cover of Generals in the Cabinet Room: How the Military Shapes Israeli Policy

Ian Lustick Author Of Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality

From my list on origins of Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began studying the Israeli-Palestinian relationship as an idealistic Brandeis University student living in Jerusalem in 1969, when I directly encountered the Palestinian problem and the realities of the occupation. Trained at Berkeley to be a political scientist I devoted my life to finding a path to a two-state solution. In 2010 I reached the tragic conclusion that the “point of no return” toward Israeli absorption of the occupied territories had indeed been passed. Bored with the ideas that my old way of thinking was producing, I forced myself to think, as Hannah Arendt advised, “without a bannister.” Paradigm Lost is the result.

Ian's book list on origins of Israeli policies toward Palestinians

Ian Lustick Why did Ian love this book?

Yoram Peri’s expertise on the historical entanglements of the military and political sectors in Israel is unrivaled.  Based on personal interviews with all major players Peri goes behind the scenes to show the real meaning of the standard Israeli formula that the “Arab problem” should be seen “through the gunsight.” He describes how different generals, even those open to an accommodation with the Palestinians and opposed to settlers, were either stymied or transformed into saboteurs of the Oslo peace process. This pattern he attributes to the hegemonic psychology, standard operating procedures, processes of socialization, and political demands, associated with the way the Israel Defense Forces are organized and integrated into Israeli politics. Particularly vivid is his portrayal of upper-echelon Israeli military frustration at its forced withdrawal from Lebanon and how that resulted in the IDF’s extraordinarily violent and destructive treatment of the Gaza Strip.

By Yoram Peri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Generals in the Cabinet Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dramatic shift of power has taken place within Israel's political system; where once the military was usually the servant of civilian politicians, today, argues Yoram Peri, generals lead the way when it comes to foreign and defense policymaking.


Book cover of Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Author Of Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By: How One Woman Confronted the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of Our Time

From my list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

Conflict resolution and intergroup relations are my passions. Perhaps because I’m a child of the Holocaust. My parents and I arrived in the U.S. as stateless refugees. The Holocaust primed me to explore why religion inspires so much hate. My career as a criminologist got me interested in the link between religion and violence. My refugee roots led me to an International Rescue Committee report on the Syrian crisis. That report hit me hard and felt very personal because it echoed my own family’s suffering in the Holocaust. I saw an opportunity to build bridges between enemies—Israel and Syria, Jews and Muslims—while also saving lives.  

Georgette's book list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Why did Georgette love this book?

I was blown away by this narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Palestinian perspective. Sari Nusseibeh is the scion of one of the oldest and most distinguished Palestinian families. So important are they that the Nusseibehs hold the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and are charged with opening the Church each day. Despite the fact that Sari and his family lost so much when Israel declared statehood in 1948, I was moved by the absence of malice in what I found to be a balanced account of “the Nakbah.” After reading the book, I was eager to meet Sari, who was at the time president of Al Quds University. My husband and I did get to spend a day with him on campus, where we learned even more about the Palestinian side of the conflict.

By Sari Nusseibeh, Anthony David,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once Upon a Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These extraordinary memoirs give us a rare view into what the Arab-Israeli conflict has meant for one Palestinian family over the generations. Nusseibeh also interweaves his own story with that of the Palestinians as a people, always speaking his mind, and apportioning blame where he feels it due. Hated by extremists on both sides, his is a rare voice.

"This autobiography? carries the passion that might embolden ordinary Israelis and Palestinians to bypass the politicians and establish the peace that all but the armoured men desperately want." The Independent

"Nusseibeh's formidable achievement? leaves a drop of despair, because of how…


Book cover of What It Means to be Palestinian: Stories of Palestinian Peoplehood

Zahera Harb Author Of Reporting the Middle East: The Practice of News in the Twenty-First Century

From my list on the Middle East from a Lebanese journalist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Arriving in the UK to pursue my PhD after a career in Journalism in my native country Lebanon, a few days before September 11, 2001, set me on a journey to put right the way my region and its people are represented in British and international media. The Middle East, the Arab region, Islam, and Muslims became the focal point of coverage for many years that followed. Most of that coverage had been tainted with negative stereotypes that do not speak true to who we are and what we stand for. Achieving fair representation and portrayal of ethnic and religious minorities have become one of my life passions.  

Zahera's book list on the Middle East from a Lebanese journalist

Zahera Harb Why did Zahera love this book?

As a journalist I have often reported on the Palestinian refugees in my home country Lebanon. I visited the refugee camps and spoke to its residents, and every time I leave the place with stories of what they have behind when they had to flee the historic land of Palestine in 1948 and later in 1967. The old keys and deeds to their homes that had been passed on from one generation to another, stay witness to their conviction of their right to return. This book is about those people and their narratives. It is about Palestinians’ collective memory of loss, that has been kept alive mostly through the spoken word. This book is a narrative documenting those narratives. It captures the essence of what it means to be Palestinian. 

By Dina Matar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What It Means to be Palestinian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"What It Means to be Palestinian" is a narrative of narratives, a collection of personal stories, remembered feelings and reconstructed experiences by different Palestinians whose lives were changed and shaped by history. Their stories are told chronologically through particular phases of the Palestinian national struggle, providing a composite autobiography of Palestine as a landscape and as a people. The book begins with the 1936 revolt against British rule in Palestine and ends in 1993, with the Oslo peace agreement that changed the nature and form of the national struggle. It is based on in-depth interviews and conversations with Palestinians, male…


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