Crossing Mandelbaum Gate

  • by Kai Bird
  • Narrated by Joe Caron
  • 15 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Through a blend of memoir and history, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Kai Bird recounts the Western experience in the Middle East and just why it has been so turbulent. Through Bird ’s Zelig-like presence, the reader experiences the Suez War of 1956, the June 1967 War, and the Black September hijackings of 1970 that led to the Jordanian Civil War. Bird's memoir also shows how all of these momentous events led to the rise and tragic downfall of a secular Arab nationalist ethos—only to be replaced by the rise of a fundamentalist, politically reactionary Islamist movement.
In narrative history, Bird tells the stories of such illuminating figures as life-long Jerusalem resident George Antonius, author of The Arab Awakening, and his charismatic wife; Jordan’s King Hussein and his CIA connections; the businessman Salem bin Laden, Osama’s older brother and a family friend; Saudi kings Faisal and Khalid; President Nasser of Egypt; and Leila Khaled, the striking young Palestinian radical who hijacked one of the Black September planes.
Bird’s personal insights and unique connections create a portal into the sensibilities and psyche of these lands that is sure to fascinate both those fluent in the history of the Middle East and the many who simply want to understand this region that the West seems to be both fighting for and against.

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What the Critics Say

“Engaging miniature portraits of overlooked characters and events....Succeed[s] in explaining the perspectives of two peoples who view the Middle East conflict through different lenses.“ (The New York Times)
"Bird's brushes with history—his first girlfriend was held hostage on an airplane hijacked to win Khaled's release, for instance—brings home the deeply messy humanity of the stories he binds together in this kaleidoscopic and captivating book." (Publishers Weekly)
"Although broadly sympathetic to Palestinian aspirations and suffering, Bird, whose wife is the child of Holocaust survivors, is also acutely sensitive to the fears and dilemmas faced by Israelis. This is a deeply felt and moving chronicle of one person’s up-close view of the human cost of this seemingly endless struggle." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The reading is atrocious

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it, however I cannot recommend the audio book. The person who read this book managed to mispronounce almost every proper noun in the book. The names of Israeli and Egyptian cities, Israeli prime ministers, authors, terrorists, etc., etc. I have listened to many many audio books, and I've never heard one read more poorly. I had a very hard time following the book in part just because the pronunciation was so bad I had to stop and think "what on earth did he just say?"
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- Ari

Poor narration

What did you like best about Crossing Mandelbaum Gate? What did you like least?

Like the narration least.


What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Presenting Palestinian view.


How did the narrator detract from the book?

Other than Nakba and Naksa (Arabic), he mispronounced almost every non-English word and name, including well-known names such as Kurt Weill. Very annoying.


Do you think Crossing Mandelbaum Gate needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, said it all.


Any additional comments?

Narrators should research the pronunciation of non-English terms and names before embarking on narration.

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- Corina "Corina"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-12-2010
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books