Martin Fletcher’s Promised Land is a literary triumph of near-contemporary historical fiction that is magnetic, surprising, and should be read and enjoyed for decades to come. The scope of the book runs from 1950, shortly after Israel’s establishment as a modern nation, to 1967, a time of its most severe testing ... The author is clearly a great admirer of Israel, but he is not blind to issues that burst the bubble of unqualified boosterism. A case in point here is the inclusion of material suggesting that Israel too often provokes the Palestinians into taking hostile, deadly action for the sole purpose of being able to justify an overpowering response. Such a response might have the end goal of resetting borders. In scope, vividness, and the representation of complex, intertwined forces, Fletcher’s book is a candidate for the highest acclaim: 'masterpiece' fits. I’m hoping for a sequel that reaches through the last third of the 20th century. As I did with Leon Uris’ Exodus, I also await the movie.
Promised Land is a sweeping novel of personal and national evolution within Israel as it attempts to forge its respectable, permanent place in the local, national and international communities. Readers will immediately become engaged in this memorable, well-crafted work of historical fiction.
This historical family saga, first of a planned trilogy, invites inevitable comparison with Leon Uris’ Exodus, the action picking up in 1950, directly after the historical events Uris depicts. Fletcher, however, focuses more on characters than on Israel’s history as the protagonists’ personal perspectives bring the interwar period (between WWII and the Six-Day War) to life ... Fletcher, well known for his National Jewish Book Award–winning Walking Israel, and for his character-driven novels, knows his subject and dramatizes it to great effect.
The further I read into this story of Peter and Arie, the more I liked it. Historical novels can be tedious and disappointing. If the history is recent and pretty well known, the author can stumble over incorrect details the reader catches. Fletcher the journalist does not have this problem. His characters are believable without being overstated heroic caricatures ... For readers who want to understand this side of Israel’s long-simmering conflict with the Arab states and people, Fletcher has given us an imaginative, memorable story.
Peter, the older brother, who was sent to America at age 14 to escape the Nazis, earned a Silver Star with the U.S. Army during World War II...His sibling, Arie, who survived the German death camp to which he was sent through his SS–pleasing ability to batter fellow Jews in the boxing ring, becomes fabulously rich in Tel Aviv as a cutthroat builder. The brothers grow apart after the unscrupulous Arie woos and marries Tamara, a beautiful Jewish refugee from Cairo, with whom Peter had a brief but meaningful affair, while Peter is away on a mission ... Fletcher, one-time Tel Aviv bureau chief for NBC, knows his Middle East history and does a good job of charting complicated international politics and Israel's secret campaign against Nazi war criminals. As entertaining as the book is, though, it fails to delve deeply enough into the characters to make their stories matter as much as what is going on around them. And the story of the brothers too often succumbs to soap opera.