Crossing Mandelbaum Gate

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In 1956, four-year-old Kai Bird, son of a charming American diplomat, moved to Jerusalem with his family. Kai could hear church bells and the Muslim call to prayer and watch as donkeys and camels competed with cars for space on the narrow streets. Each day on his way to school, Kai was driven through Mandelbaum Gate, where armed soldiers guarded the line separating Israeli-controlled West Jerusalem from Arab-controlled East.

Bird would spend much of his life crossing such lines—as a child in Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, and later, as a young man in Lebanon. In Crossing Mandelbaum Gate, a narrative that “rips along like a spy novel” (The New York Times Book Review), Bird’s retelling of “events such as Suez in 1956, the Six Day War of 1967, and Black September in 1970 are as clear and fresh as yesterday” (The Spectator, UK). Bird vividly portrays emblematic figures like George Antonius, author of The Arab Awakening; Jordan’s King Hussein; the Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled; Salem bin Laden; Saudi King Faisal; President Nasser of Egypt; and Hillel Kook, the forgotten rescuer of more than 100,000 Jews during World War II.

Bird, his parents sympathetic to Palestinian self-determination and his wife the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, has written a “kaleidoscopic and captivating” (Publishers Weekly) personal history of a troubled region and an indispensable addition to the literature on the modern Middle East.

  • 448 pages
  • 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • hardcover
  • by Kai Bird
Item Number: 23852