100 books like The Words of My Father

By Yousef Bashir,

Here are 100 books that The Words of My Father fans have personally recommended if you like The Words of My Father. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Yossi Klein Halevi Author Of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

From my list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

In books, essays and reportage, I've been writing about Israel and the conflict since moving from the U.S. to Israel in 1982. Even as I write from within my Israeli consciousness, I have tried to understand and convey other perspectives. For Israelis and Palestinians, there is nothing abstract about this conflict; it is, instead, a matter of life and death. My writing is an attempt to simultaneously convey the passions of this conflict and offer an empathic voice for all those caught in this seemingly hopeless situation.

Yossi's book list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Yossi Klein Halevi Why did Yossi love this book?

Oren, a historian and former Israeli ambassador to Washington, broke new ground with this account of the 1967 Six-Day War that transformed Israel, the Palestinian national movement, and the Middle East. Drawing on previously inaccessible documents in Israeli and Arab archives, Oren writes with a novelist’s eye for character, a diplomat’s appreciation of behind-the-scenes negotiations, and a historian’s judgment of human folly. The Six-Day War transformed Israel and the Jewish people in multiple ways – instilling self-confidence in Diaspora Jews, solidifying Israel’s permanence in the Middle East, and also burdening the Jewish state with seemingly insoluble political and moral dilemmas. This is the best book written about the war itself. 

By Michael B. Oren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1967 the future of the state of Israel was far from certain. But with its swift and stunning military victory against an Arab coalition led by Egypt in the Six Day War, Israel not only preserved its existence but redrew the map of the region, with fateful consequences. The Camp David Accords, the assassinations of Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, the intifada, and the current troubled peace negotiations-all of these trace their origins to the Six Day War.
Michael Oren's Six Days of War is a gripping account of one of the most dramatic and important episodes in the…


Book cover of Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier's Story of a Forgotten War

Yossi Klein Halevi Author Of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

From my list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

In books, essays and reportage, I've been writing about Israel and the conflict since moving from the U.S. to Israel in 1982. Even as I write from within my Israeli consciousness, I have tried to understand and convey other perspectives. For Israelis and Palestinians, there is nothing abstract about this conflict; it is, instead, a matter of life and death. My writing is an attempt to simultaneously convey the passions of this conflict and offer an empathic voice for all those caught in this seemingly hopeless situation.

Yossi's book list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Yossi Klein Halevi Why did Yossi love this book?

One of Israel’s finest non-fiction writers tells the story of Israel’s failed war in Lebanon – the only war Israel lost – through his own experience as a soldier. A powerful meditation on the feelings of vulnerability and loss that are built into the Israeli experience – along with the deep commitment to protecting Israel from threats that unite Israelis across the political spectrum. This is the best book I know of in  English that conveys the complex experience of being an Israeli soldier. 

By Matti Friedman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A book about young men transformed by war, written by a veteran whose dazzling literary gifts gripped my attention from the first page to the last.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Friedman’s sober and striking new memoir . . . [is] on a par with Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried -- its Israeli analog.” —The New York Times Book Review

It was just one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples that are still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code…


Book cover of Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001

Oren Kessler Author Of Palestine 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict

From my list on learning the roots of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist, think-tanker, and analyst based in Tel Aviv and formerly in Washington and London. I have a BA in History from the University of Toronto and an MA in Diplomacy and Conflict Studies from Reichman University in Israel, and I was previously deputy director for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. My first book, Palestine 1936, was named one of the Top Ten Books of 2023 by the Wall Street Journal. Throughout my whole life, I’ve written about the Middle East, the Israeli-Arab conflict, and so on and so forth. I love to travel and to read. And to write.

Oren's book list on learning the roots of the Israeli-Arab conflict

Oren Kessler Why did Oren love this book?

A complete history of the Zionist-Arab conflict, starting with the first wave of Zionist emigration. Benny Morris is one of the leading historians of Israel. Many consider him the historian of Israel.

He has often irritated critics, first on the right and later on the left, with work that failed to flatter their particular political sympathies. But he has always insisted that he goes where the material takes him, and I, for one, believe him. Today he remains uncategorizable and unpredictable.

This book is based on secondary sources - its remit is too wide to be based on primary ones - but it is, in my view, the best one-stop shop for a general history of the conflict. 

By Benny Morris,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Righteous Victims as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Righteous Victims, by the noted historian Benny Morris, is a comprehensive and
objective history of the long battle between Arabs and Jews for possession of a land they both call home. It appears at a most timely juncture, as the bloody and protracted struggle seems at last to be headed for resolution.

With great clarity of vision, Professor Morris finds the roots of this conflict in the deep religious, ethnic, and political differences between the Zionist immigrants and the native Arab population of Palestine. He describes the gradual influx of Jewish settlers, which was eventually fiercely resisted by the Arabs…


Book cover of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace

Yossi Klein Halevi Author Of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

From my list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

In books, essays and reportage, I've been writing about Israel and the conflict since moving from the U.S. to Israel in 1982. Even as I write from within my Israeli consciousness, I have tried to understand and convey other perspectives. For Israelis and Palestinians, there is nothing abstract about this conflict; it is, instead, a matter of life and death. My writing is an attempt to simultaneously convey the passions of this conflict and offer an empathic voice for all those caught in this seemingly hopeless situation.

Yossi's book list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Yossi Klein Halevi Why did Yossi love this book?

What is the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and what is the key to its solution? In this groundbreaking work, Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf argue that the answer is not settlements or holy places or even the absence of a Palestinian state. Instead, the core of the conflict is the Palestinian national movement’s insistence on “right of return” of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to what is now the state of Israel – rather than resettlement in a future Palestinian state. What Palestinian leaders have effectively done, argue the authors, is link the end of the conflict to a “solution” that will mean the end of a sovereign Jewish state. The authors, who support the creation of a Palestinian state, argue that its creation depends on the willingness of Palestinian leaders to give up their dream of destroying Israel through a shift in its demographic balance. Until that…

By Adi Schwartz, Einat Wilf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two prominent Israeli liberals argue that for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to end with peace, Palestinians must come to terms with the fact that there will be no "right of return."

In 1948, seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the first Arab-Israeli War. More than seventy years later, most of their houses are long gone, but millions of their descendants are still registered as refugees, with many living in refugee camps. This group―unlike countless others that were displaced in the aftermath of World War II and other conflicts―has remained unsettled, demanding to…


Book cover of All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948

Ilan Pappé Author Of Ten Myths About Israel

From my list on understanding modern Palestine.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ilan Pappé is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa. He is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of PalestineThe Modern Middle EastA History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, and Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Ilan's book list on understanding modern Palestine

Ilan Pappé Why did Ilan love this book?

This lexicon of the destroyed Palestinian villages of 1948 illustrated to a wide readership the scope and meaning of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe. In short installments, a whole history that is wiped out is reconstructed as part of the struggle against denial.

By Walid Khalidi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This authoritative reference work describes in detail the more than 400 Palestinian villages that were destroyed or depopulated by Israel in 1948. Little of these once-thriving communities remains: not only have they been erased from the Palestinian landscape, their very names have been removed from contemporary Israeli maps. But to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in their diaspora, these villages were home, and continue to be poignantly powerful symbols of their personal and national identity.


Book cover of Apeirogon

Alan Huffman Author Of Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer

From my list on traveling to dangerous places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started out like most travelers, attracted to new places and to meeting people whose worlds were different from my own. Typically, this meant tried-and-true destinations in Europe until a book project required me to visit an utterly daunting place, the West African nation of Liberia during a civil war. I was in no way prepared for the experience and it changed everything. Seeing how people behave when faced with extreme circumstances profoundly altered my view of the world. Everything was magnified. Though I still enjoy a cup of espresso on the Piazza Navona, there is nothing like traveling to a forbidden zone and meeting someone destined to be a lifelong friend on the roof of a bombed-out building. It opens the world in ways that are challenging and scary, but also incomparably rewarding. 

Alan's book list on traveling to dangerous places

Alan Huffman Why did Alan love this book?

The perilous distances traveled in this intense, genre-bending novel are likewise abbreviated – sometimes measured in meters, between Israel and Palestine, but they are as fraught with peril as any thousand-mile survival trek. Based on the author-embellished experiences of two men, one of whom is Israeli, the other Palestinian, who also appear as themselves in factual passages, the book mixes fiction and nonfiction to magnify the drama of traveling back and forth between two adjacent, lethally fractious zones. An unexpected friendship develops between the two men after each loses a daughter to terror violence perpetrated by the other side, which alters their views as they repeatedly crisscross the boundary line.

Despite the book’s comparatively confined settings, the effect is of near-constant, life-changing motion as the two struggle to bridge a seemingly impassible gap in search of the truth. It works. Words of praise like “staggering” and “transformative” barely hint at…

By Colum McCann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE SHORTLISTED FOR THE DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD SHORTLISTED FOR THE PRIX FEMINA AND THE PRIX MEDICIS SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOLDSBORO BOOKS GLASS BELL AWARD WINNER OF THE PRIX DU MEILLEUR LIVRES ETRANGER WINNER OF THE 2020 NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARDS CHOSEN AS A BOOK OF 2020 BY THE SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER, GUARDIAN, i PAPER, FINANCIAL TIMES, NEW STATESMAN, SCOTSMAN, IRISH TIMES, BBC.COM, WATERSTONES.COM 'A wondrous book. It left me hopeful; this is its gift' Elizabeth Strout 'An empathy engine ... It is, itself, an agent of change' New York Times Book…


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 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…


Book cover of Exile's Return: The Making of a Palestinian-American

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

If you only ever read one Palestinian memoirist, it should be Fawaz Turki.

He published three book-length memoirs, all excellent, but this is his most comprehensive autobiography and as such the must-read of all his works. It covers his early years in Haifa, his family’s displacement to Lebanon in 1948, and his subsequent adolescence in Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp; as well as his later studies and career in the US.

Exile’s Return is organized around his first return visit to Palestine in the 1990s, where he comes face-to-face with the realities of the Israeli occupation and continuing Palestinian dispossession. There are now many brilliant memoirs and autobiographies by Palestinian refugees, but Turki remains the memoirist par excellence in this genre. 

By Fawaz Turki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Exile's Return as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A memoir tells of a Palestinian exile's return to his family's West Bank home after forty years of Western life, his dismay at the rigid conformity of Palestinian society, and his recognition that he has become a Palestinian American


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…


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