The Battle for Jerusalem – A review of “Where the Desert Meets the Sea” by Werner Sonne

Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine so I was intrigued at the prospect of a tale set in Jerusalem in 1947. “Where the Desert Meets the Sea” involves the bond between two women, an Arab and a Jew. I had only a very basic knowledge of the time surrounding Israel’s establishment as a state but nothing about the conflict itself and this book did a fair job of enlightening me about some of the struggles, especially the ongoing guerrilla warfare in Jerusalem for control of the city state. Each side felt its claim to the territory was valid and neither was willing to cede what they considered already theirs. However, NATO said otherwise.

While Werner Sonne’s book is factually accurate from a historical perspective, the characters are somewhat one dimensional except for Dr. David Cohen. We get a much deeper look at what makes Cohen tick than we do at anyone else. What is disappointing is the missed opportunity to plumb the depths of a relationship between the Arab nurse Hana and Judith, the young Jewish survivor of Dachau. More’s the pity that Sonne didn’t delve too deeply there.

The writing itself is clean and relatively uncluttered but it’s also soulless. In my estimation, author Sonne took a pass on a rare opportunity. Kudos to Steve Anderson for an exemplary translation. Three and a half stars.

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