Apr 1, 2020

Book Review: Palestine Posts

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: Palestine Posts, by Daniel S. Chertoff, based on the letters of Mordechai S. Chertoff
 

Palestine Posts, by Daniel S Chertoff, is a unique history book. Most history books are written by scholars, historians, looking back at the archives and other information about something that happened [usually] a long time ago, and then telling the story of that event in book form. A history book might be written today about World War II or the Vietnam War, and each book will tell it from the perspective and angle the author/historian wants to tell and point out, but it will generally be a rehashing of historical information.

Palestine Posts is different. It is a history book, but it is a history book that was mostly written while the historical event was happening. In Palestine Posts the reader is reading history through the lens of the person who actually experienced it, while he was experiencing it! It is truly a unique form of a history book and of the retelling of a historical event, and it puts the reader right there in the middle of it!

Daniel Chetrtoff discovered a cache of letters his father, Mordechai, had written when he spent time in Palestine back in the mid 1940s. Mordechai spent some years in Israel and he worked as a journalist at the time for the Palestine Post. He sent letters home, he corresponded with his family, and these are some of those letters. Some of the correspondence was on more personal matters, and much of that was no included in the book, though some of his personal affairs are included, but he also wrote home a lot about what was happening in Palestine at the time, and also sent home clippings of articles he wrote for the newspaper.

Daniel discovered this cache of old letters, and realized he never even really knew his father all that well. He knew almost nothing about his father during that time, and this was an astounding discovery for him on a personal level - getting to see this background of his father, and also on a historical level.

The time period is the days leading up to the foundation of the State of Israel, the Foundation of the State, and the War of Independence. Again, you are reading a practically first-hand account of the foundation of the State of Israel as it happens - not just a historical retelling of the events that led to the foundation of the State.

Daniel posts many of the original letters, interspersed with his own additions for putting the letters into context. He adds historical information so you know what the letter is referring to, and his footnotes give background to many of the things Mordechai writes about in slang or shorthand - both translations of Hebrew or Yiddish words so the reader can understand and names of people referred to by their nicknames with some background about them. This si not even a first hand retelling of an historical event - it is a first hand telling of the event, as his letters telling about the event were written as the events were happening!

Besides for the first hand telling of history, Mordechai had amazing connections and friendships and the book is full of name-dropping, though obviously at the time he was just telling his family about people he was in contact with on a personal and professional level - he was not bragging or name dropping then, as they are only in that status many years later to be worthy of name dropping. He is telling this over all naturally and innocently.

Palestine Posts is truly a unique look at history, not from the perspective of 70 years later, but 70 years later from the perspective of the 1940s. Anybody interested in the history of Israel, the Jewish 1940s, the foundation of the State of Israel, and the War of Independence, should read Palestine Posts.


You can buy Palestine Posts on Amazon.com

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.


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