The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

 

Nonfiction

The Lemon Tree by Sandy TolanThe Lemon TreeSandy Tolan; Bloomsbury USA 2007WorldCatAn Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East

Sandy Tolan documents and reports history. He carefully researched The Lemon Tree to write a story of Palestine that started in the 1930’s and continues to the latter 1960’s and up to the turn of the century. The Lemon Tree is focused on one home and the families who lived in it, yet is a story that can apply to all the residents of the region. both Arab and Jew.

Tolan interviewed as many people as he could and researched primary sources as much as possible. If he received his information second-hand, he talks about what probably happened rather than trying to state what actually happened or was said. As a historical document, The Lemon Tree is very important.

I learned a lot of history of the Palestine area. I grew up in the United States and was taught the national view of the importance of the State of Israel. The Arabs were greedy people who didn’t want to concede anything. Here in The Lemon Tree, I got a balanced overview of what happened in that area in the 1940’s when the Jews were fleeing from Europe and the Nazis. My understanding is better and my sympathies have shifted.

As a book to read through – The Lemon Tree doesn’t fare well. I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. I read about a quarter of the book, often only two pages at a time before I put it down. I skipped ahead to the return to the incidents occuring in the first chapter which had caught my interest. But they couldn’t hold me. I skipped a bit more through the book, then gave up.

The Lemon Tree is full of good information and (presumably) good stories. I was hoping for something more that had a more readable tone. This is a good book for scholars of the region and those trying to understand it better. If you want a story that doesn’t read like a school book, look for something else.

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