A Country of Words
A Palestinian Journey from the Refugee Camp to the Front Page
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Few lives reflect their times as much as the life of Abdel Bari Atwan. Born in a refugee camp in Gaza in 1950, he left age seventeen and has since become one of the world's most foremost commentators on the Middle East. In this revealing memoir, Atwan recounts with humour and honesty his extraordinary journey. He depicts both the horror of camp massacres and the unexpected consequences of Britain's involvement in the region - such as when a British paratrooper fell from the sky with his sizeable parachute and everyone in his mother's village got new silk trousers. Atwan shares his many extraordinary encounters, including tea with Margaret Thatcher, a weekend with Osama bin Laden, intimate meetings with Yasser Arafat, and the row between Colonel Gaddafi and the Shah of Iran that earned him his first journalistic break. But his is also a touching, personal story, never more so than when he describes taking his British-born children to meet his family, who still live in a camp surrounded by barbed wire. 'This portrait of the life and times of a distinguished journalist offers a penetrating insight into the world as seen from the point of view of someone born and bred a Palestinian refugee in a Gaza camp. Abdel Bari Atwan's authentic voice and sharp, descriptive writing brings alive a childhood full of life-affirming sparkle amid a lifetime spent deep in the travails of the Middle Eastern tragedy' Polly Toynbee 'Atwan's enthralling memoir charts his meteoric rise form the shoeless urchin in the 1950's to cultured commentator whose opinion is now sought all over the world ... A skilful raconteur.' Tribune Magazine
- Saqi, July 2012
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