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The events in Palestine between the end of the Second World War in May 1945 and the declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948 ruptured Middle Eastern history and left an indelible mark on the modern world. Today, no conflict is felt to be more intractable or divisive, no dispute so fraught with passion or infused with so much hatred, despite the repeated attempts at reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians in the six decades since Israel came into being.
Yet how did it feel to witness and experience these momentous events? In 'A Senseless, Squalid War' Norman Rose uses contemporary sources - letters, songs, diaries and stories as well as journalism and official propaganda - to reveal the attitudes and experiences of the participants from all sides of the unfolding drama.
'A Senseless, Squalid War' also chronicles the political context of these crucial years. In the immediate aftermath of the European war, amidst the horrific revelations of the Holocaust and a diplomatic stalemate over the partitioning of Palestine, militant guerrilla groups sought to undermine the British presence. Jewish refugees in their thousands had been trying to enter Palestine since the early 1940s, many on the notorious 'death ships' from Eastern Europe, with tragic consequences. The massacre at Deir Yassin and the forced transfer of up to 700,000 Palestinians; the British withdrawal and the celebration of independence; the mounting tensions and the 'war of extermination and momentous massacre' - all this, and the voices of those who lived it, are recreated as never before in Norman Rose's powerful and vivid work.
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Emilie Frèche, lauréate du Prix Orange du Livre 2013 pour "Deux étrangers"