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Men's Club Book Group
Cain's Field: Faith, Fratricide and Fear in the Middle East
Tuesday, Dec 2nd, 2008 9 AM

One East 65th Street

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in this gripping, in-the-trenches account of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, award-winning journalist Matt Rees takes us deep within Israeli and Palestinian societies to reveal the fractures at the core of both. While the world focuses almost exclusively on the violent clash between the two camps, Rees steers our gaze toward their centers, exposing the internal rifts that drain each society of its ability to act cohesively. The Palestinians focus on the occupation of the West Bank, the Jewish settlers and other Israeli actions, while the Israelis see only the intifada and the suicide bombings — and both overlook their bitter infighting. This dazzling, groundbreaking narrative goes behind the familiar moves of the big players to reveal the individuals who are at war not only with the enemy but also with their own people.

Beginning with the astonishing story of a Hamas member who is targeted both by Israel for his hand in attacks against Jews and by the Palestinian Authority for the revenge killing of a police officer who murdered his brother, each chapter concentrates on one or two individuals with whom Rees has personal contact and whose stories uncover the chaos at the hearts of these two warring groups. From Palestinian car thieves and filmmakers to Israeli settlers and Holocaust survivors, Rees traces the minute and numerous ways that Yasser Arafat betrays his people, and the Israeli leadership veers between placating and abusing its clashing factions.

Rees has unparalleled access to groups and people on both sides of the conflict, as well as an extraordinary talent for looking beyond the usual stories. In Cain’s Field, he suggests that the world has been looking in the wrong place to explain the unending battles and in the wrong place for a solution. With heartbreaking detail, incisive revelations, and terrible and often moving stories of the human beings behind the intractable attitudes and violence, Rees offers a bold new perspective on this tragic and seemingly insoluble situation. In so doing, he also offers hope — the hope that by turning the spotlight inward, these societies might heal their internal wounds and move toward a peaceful future.


MATT REES is the Jerusalem bureau chief for Time magazine. In 2003 he won a Henry Luce Award for reporting for his coverage of the battle in Jenin during the current intifada. He also has written for Men’s Journal, Newsweek, The Scotsman and The Jerusalem Post. He lives in Jerusalem.

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