THE WAY TO THE SPRING: Life and Death in Palestine by Ben Ehrenreich
Penguin Press, June 14, 2016
Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers meets Anthony Shadid’s Night Draws Near--from an award-winning journalist, a brave and necessary immersion into the lives and struggles of everyday Palestinians
For the past three years, American writer Ben Ehrenreich has been spending long stretches of time living in the West Bank. Along the way he has written major stories for American outlets, including a remarkable New York Times Magazine cover story. Now comes the powerful new work that has always been his ultimate goal, The Way to the Spring.
We are familiar with brave journalists who travel to bleak or war-torn places and make human contact with people suffering from extremes of oppression and want: Katherine Boo, Adrian Nicole Leblanc, Alex Kotlowitz, and Philip Gourevitch among them. Palestine is, by any measure, whatever one's politics, one such place. In cities and small villages alike, men and women, young and old, a group of unforgettable characters share their lives with Ehrenreich and make their own case for resistance and resilience in the face of life under occupation. Ruled by the Israeli military, set upon and harassed constantly by Israeli settlers who admit unapologetically to wanting to drive them from the land, forced to negotiate an ever more elaborate and more suffocating series of fences, checkpoints and barriers that have sundered home from field, home from home, they are a population whose living conditions are unique, and indeed hard to imagine, until now.
Blending political and historical context with deeply human stories, The Way to the Spring makes clear that conditions on the ground are ever changing--and getting worse, in an accelerating dynamic that should provoke the conscience of us all. In a great act of empathy and intellectual understanding, Ben Ehrenreich, simply by placing us in the footsteps of ordinary Palestinians and telling their story with surpassing literary power and grace, makes it impossible for us to turn away.