Even as a teenager, Jeffrey Goldberg was driven to make a difference. His cause was Zionism, and in 1986, hopped up on Leon Uris’s Exodus and socialist summer camps, he left his comfortable Jewish Long Island home and flew to Israel, ready to live a life of principle. He wound up at the notorious Ketziot prison, guarding — and at times befriending — PLO and Hamas members at the height of the first intifida. It has taken him twenty years to come to terms with that experience, which he chronicles in his absorbing memoir Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.
Almost like a benevolent, backward Munich, Prisoners follows Goldberg (now a staff writer for The New Yorker) as he obsessively tracks down former Palestinian prisoners, determined to see if friendship can transcend circumstance. While his search for reconciliation drives Prisoners, the book is no philosophical or political screed. Instead, Goldberg’s story is moving, funny, personal, and ultimately, like the best literature, universal and enlightening.
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