Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle EAst Memoir
By John Lyons
Recommended by a BookClub Group, this is a fascinating and compelling memoir that tries to make sense of conflict and history. What an eye opener!
A gripping memoir of life in Jerusalem from one of Australia’s most experienced Middle East correspondents.
Leading Australian journalist John Lyons will take readers on a fascinating personal journey through the wonders and dangers of the Middle East. From the sheer excitement of arriving in Jerusalem with his wife and eight-year-old son, to the fall of dictators and his gripping account of what it feels like to be taken by Egyptian soldiers, blindfolded and interrogated, this is a memoir of the Middle East like no other.
Drawing on a 20-year interest in the Middle East, Lyons has had extraordinary access – he’s interviewed everyone from Israel’s former Prime Ministers Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert to key figures from Hezbollah and Hamas. He’s witnessed the brutal Iranian Revolutionary Guard up close and was one of the last foreign journalists in Iran during the violent crackdown against the ‘Green Revolution’. He’s confronted Hamas officials about why they fire rockets into Israel and Israeli soldiers about why they fire tear gas at Palestinian school children. By telling the story of his family travelling through the region, this book is extremely readable and entertaining, full of humour, colour. It is sometimes dazzling in its detail, sometimes tragic. Lyons says he has written it in a way that readers can feel they are there with him – so they can smell the wonderful markets of the Middle East and feel the fear of what it is like to be blindfolded and have your hands bound with electrical cord. Lyons also looks at 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank – the mechanics of how this works and the effect it now has on both Israelis and Palestinians.
Lyons explains the Middle East through every day life and experiences – his son’s school, his wife’s friends and his own dealings with a range of people over six years. If you only read one book on the Middle East, this is it.