In narrative history Bird tells the stories of such illuminating figures as life-long Jerusalem resident George Antonius, author of The Arab Awakening, and his charismatic wife; Jordan ’s King Hussein and his CIA connections; the businessman Salem bin Laden, Osama ’s older brother and a family friend; Saudi kings Faisal and Khalid; President Nasser of Egypt; and Leila Khaled, the striking young Palestinian radical who hijacked one of the Black September planes.
Bird ’s personal insights and unique connections create a portal into the sensibilities and psyche of these lands that is sure to fascinate both those fluent in the history of the Middle East and the many who simply want to understand this region The West seems to be both fighting for and against.
The New York Times
“Bird’s acute and engaging memoir is a mournful recollection of a time when the single issue of Arab and Israeli, Muslim and Jew, was not the monotonously dominant theme that it has since become. . . . He is adroit, modest, ironic, and amusing. . . . Bird puts me somewhat in mind of Edward Said’s memoir, Out of Place.”
Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic
“A compelling hybrid of memoir and history . . . kaleidoscopic and captivating.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“There is no better way for a foreigner to begin to understand the newly partitioned Jerusalem of 1950 than to read of Bird’s earliest memories.”
Christian Science Monitor