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Tim Boxer


Israel: An IntroductionA New Take On The Land

NOUGH already of the battles won, the James Bond-like exploits of the Mossad, the lamentations in the recent past over victims of suicide bombers. In his public appearances Israel’s ambassador to New York, Consul General Ido Aharoni, has been touting his country’s stupendous but little-known gifts to the world in the realms of science, technology, food and medicine.

"A country that does not highlight its own attractive facets," he said at a recent dinner of the Israel Cancer Research Fund in New York, "loses the ability to face the competition."

That is the angle taken by Barry Rubin in Israel: An Introduction. Yes he covers history, politics and conflict, but also he hones in on society, culture and science, topics that have been limited in public discourse. His book fills the gap.

Due to an unusually high influx of scientists from Europe, Israel’s has been transformed into a high tech state. There are 140 scientists and technicians and 135 engineers for every 10,000 people, the highest ratio in the world. The excellent caliber of the universities and the management skills gained in the army sustain a super-high quality of medical breakthroughs and scientific innovations. Thus in the pharmaceuticals sector, Teva is now the world’s largest producer of generic drugs.

Rubin notes that the United Nations Human Development Index – which gauges health, knowledge, and standard of living – ranked Israel at 15th out of 169 surveyed countries in 2010.

Broadband household penetration in 2008 reached 77 percent, putting Israel in seventh place, ahead of the U.S., UK, France and Canada. Israel boasts eight Nobel |laureates.

Barry Rubin, director of Global Research in international Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, devotes a good portion of the book to the rise of Zionism and the creation of the state. A comprehensive, balanced and welcome history of modern Israel and its varied, highly talented people. (Yale University, softcover, 352 pages with 86 illustrations, $30.00 Amazon.com Price: $28.80)


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The Nazis established the first concentration camp just weeks after Hitler assumed power. As an effective means of terrorizing the populace by sending away real and perceived enemies of the state, as well as social outsiders (homeless, beggars), and those of racial impurity (gypsies, Jews), the camps quickly came under the sole administration of the SS and morphed into centers of torture and mass murder. This fascinating and important collection of original documents, letters, memos and dispatches reveal the inner working of the death camps. Edited by Christian Goeschel, who teaches modern European history professor at the Australian National University in Canberra, and Nikolaus Wachsmann, who teaches modern German history at Birkbeck College, University of London. (University of Nebraska Press, 448 pages, $65.00 Amazon.com Price: $50.03)

JOHN PHILIP SOUSA’S AMERICA: THE PATRIOT’S LIFE IN IMAGES AND WORDSJOHN PHILIP SOUSA’S AMERICA: THE PATRIOT’S LIFE IN IMAGES AND WORDS This lavish pictorial biography is a loving homage by the composer’s great grandson, John Philip Sousa IV, and Loras John Schissel, senior musicologist at the Library of Congress, consists of 300 color photos, 200 B&W pictures, 100 color illustrations plus newspaper clippings, satirical caricatures and other archival ephemera marking the unvarnished, distinguished, life of America’s venerable March King. Includes a CD of Sousa’s works performed by the U.S. Marine Band. (GIA Publications/IPG, 214 pages, $34.95 Amazon.com Price: $27.51)

MY NEW iPADMY NEW iPAD Wallace Wang’s book is no laughing matter. As a standup comedian, he appears at the Riviera Comedy Club in Vegas. As a standup the writer, he’s produced several helpful manuals for us, including this one for the latest iPad. He tells us how to set up email, how to get all those cool apps, how to get organized with Calendar, Contacts and Notes, and how to encrypt backups, and much much more. If you get an iPad, you have to get this book. (No Starch Press, 3d edition, soft cover, 312 pages, $24.95 Amazon.com Price: $13.92)

THE KOSHER GRAPEVINETHE KOSHER GRAPEVINE For everyone intimidated by the wine menu (you know who you are), help is at hand. Irving Langer comes to our aid with this handsomely produced volume that reveals everything you need to know to become an instant wine maven. Subtitled, Exploring the World of Fine Wine, the book helps you understand the different varieties, how to taste each one to discover your personal choice, and how to enjoy your selection with your meal. Stop gulping food thoughtlessly while watching TV or reading the paper, and thereby eating excessively in a haze of inattention. "The purpose of drinking wine with our meals," Langer insists, "is to open the palate to better enjoy the food. Bringing the mind and body together in a pleasurable experience does nit make us gluttons; it makes us more balanced and healthier." (Gefen, 158 pages, coffee table size, printed in Israel, $34.95 Amazon.com Price: $26.56)

THE WHOLE FOODS KOSHER KITCHENTHE WHOLE FOODS KOSHER KITCHEN Levana Kirschenbaum, who pioneered gourmet kosher cooking for the past 30 years at her upscale restaurant on New York’s Upper West Side, has produced her third gorgeous cookbook, brimming with absolutely delicious dishes for your haute guests — and for your family, too, who deserve the finest. There’s a gluten-free section as well as a special Passover department. What are the benefits of whipping up your own menu instead of going to your neighborhood café? The answer is infuriatingly simple, she says. Your own creation "looks good and inviting, it tastes good, it feels good, it is healthier, it’s ready in no time, and it yields ample servings." Also it fosters "a mood of wholesomeness, togetherness, and good cheer." I’ll drink to that! (Levana Cooks, 428 pages, $39.95 Amazon.com Price: $35.62)

THE COMPLETE GEEZER GUIDEBOOKTHE COMPLETE GEEZER GUIDEBOOK Old and grumpy, are you? Well, this hilarious book will validate your eccentric behavior among friends and family. Celebrate your geezer potential! How do you know you’re geezer? If you can remember when typewriters made a clacking noise and you used carbon paper to make copies, you’re a geezer. Geezers remember when gay meant happy, CD meant a certificate of deposit, disc was part of the spinal column, spam was a can of mediocre meat, coke was a bottle of soda, and ho was a gardening implement. More laughs in this geezer manual by Charles F. "Chuck" Adams. (Quill Driver Books, softcover, 186 pages, festooned with New Yorker cartoons, $14.95 Amazon.com Price: $14.81)

Bread: Where Does It Come From?MENUCHA FUCHS A mother of six in Jerusalem, Ms. Fuchs has written more than 300 books, mainly for children, but also for the Israeli school system. She’s been commissioned by Torah Umesorah, the publishing arm of the National Society of Hebrew Day Schools in the U.S. to create a Hebrew language curriculum. Her Israeli books, newly translated, are beginning to appear in U.S. stores from Menusha Publishers. They include the Living and Learning Encyclopedia for Children (such as Bread: Where Does It Come From? hardcover, 24 pages, $19.95) and the Mashal Nimshal series (for example, Fishel the Fisherman, hardcover, 24 pages, $17.99).

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