Heavy reading

I purchased a few more books yesterday:
‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’ by Thomas Friedman
‘The Clash of Civilisations’ by Samuel P. Huntington, and
‘Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine’ by Colin Chapman.

Friedman is a Pulitzer Prize columnist currently working for the New York Times. Those in Singapore may have come across his commentaries in the Straits Times. However, he is not without criticism from anti-globalisation advocates and Muslims.
Harvard professor Huntington’s book is leaner but meaner and reads like a compact History of the World. His analysis takes everything into consideration – even our tiny dot on the map. It’s more a ‘big picture’ sort of book, not recommended for specific discussions on any conflict. Read the original article in Foreign Affairs, which led to the publication of his book.
I bought the last title as a supplement to my ongoing struggle cross-comparison study between the Koran and the Bible. Part 1 contains an outline of the conflict from the beginning of Judaism (Abraham et al) with a collection of viewpoints from Israelis, Palestinians and other notables, while Part 2 analyses the problem from a Christian perspective. Chapman is a lecturer in Islamic studies in Lebanon.
The tricky thing about doing research on a sensitive area is, I don’t believe any publication is completely void of bias, yet because I don’t know the subject any better myself, I still have to start from somewhere.


  1. Waye

    ah, you bought books, that’s my favourite hobby. the tough part’s actually finding the time to read them though. *wail*, now that i’m a student my only solace is visiting bookstores and noting down all the books i’m going to buy when i find a ‘proper’ job.

  2. vantan

    Heh. There are many more books I’d like to read, but because I’m still *working* I don’t have the time. Wish I was a student again.

  3. Jac

    Hei Vantan
    Just had a quick read through your blog…..and found your book purchases intriguing. I mean i am a Singaporean married to an Israeli and living in israel. I am definately not a pro-israeli occupation type but whenever i go back to Singapore , i find myself defending the Israeilis and the Israeli occupation of gaza and the west bank. So when you are done with those books, do drop me a line with a comment or two ok

  4. Vanessa Heng

    Hey Van,
    Cool that you picked up the Friedman book. It was really by chance that I found the book on my dad’s shelf and then mentioned it to you a few days later. Another book I’d recommend is “God Has Ninety-Nine Names”, by Judith Miller. She was one of the people in the US who received anthrax in the mail. She’s also barred from and declared an enemy of Iraq because of a book she co-authored about Saddam Hussein. “God has Ninety-Nine Names” is recommended reading for anyone interested in the history and political events in the Middle East. She writes that just as there are ninety-nine names for God in Islam, there are many types or variations of Islam that Muslims practice.

  5. vantan

    Update: I’m a third of my way into the Friedman book, and for a Jew he’s pretty candid about Israeli shortcomings and how the Arab world really operates.
    Which affirms my long-held suspicions that many in the West don’t really understand why
    1) true democracy isn’t working in the Middle East
    2) you don’t win people’s hearts by invading their country, even if they have an evil dictator
    3) money isn’t everything
    4) people become suicide bombers
    5) people hate America.

Comments are closed.