Monday, January 18, 2010

Book: Benjamin Orbach's "Live From Jordan"


I can't remember ever reading a book that I've received as a gift so it's appropriate that my first gift book was also my first book of 2010. The GodSon was the gift giver and the most appropriate gift to the Wife and I was Benjamin Orbach's "Live From Jordan: Letters Home From My Journey Through the Middle East".

Benjamin Orbach spent thirteen months, from July 2002 to August 2003, living in Jordan and Egypt studying Arabic. The book compiles letters he wrote back home to his family in the USA, one letter per chapter. His account is less about Jordan than of the people he encounters - the true Jordan. He hoped to educate the Jordanian people he met about the United States but ends up being the one educated. His immersion into the culture gave him a perspective that the diplomats, cocooned in their 'green zones' and posh hotels, rarely are exposed to.

The most interesting part was when the Iraq war started. Nothing like being a Jew in an Muslim country when your country is bombing their neighbor. This was the real test to the conclusion Orbach had arrived at - that people in the region liked Americans but hated the American Government. His conclusion, at least for his relationships, turned out to be correct.

I've never read a compilation of letters before -another first for me. It felt cumbersome to me as there wasn't a smooth flow from idea to idea and from chapter to chapter. As I read more this became less distracting. That's good as I ended up liking this book.

When I started this book, I was hoping to learn about the country the Wife and I are going to visit in June. Instead I discovered a whole new perspective. A true gift from ... a gift. Thank you GodSon.

Recommended.

4 comments:

  1. Glad to hear you liked Live from Jordan, enjoy the trip -
    Best,
    Ben

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ben: Thanks for visiting Homer's Travels and thank you for writing such an insightful book.

    We are looking forward to this trip very much. It will be quite a bit shorter than yours and we will be rather isolated from the realities of the country, a side affect of traveling with a tour group, but it will have to do for now.

    ReplyDelete