Extreme Rambling

Extreme Rambling : Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun.

4.08 (547 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Good fences make good neighbours, but what about bad ones?'

The Israeli separation barrier is probably the most iconic divider of land since the Berlin Wall. It has been declared illegal under international law and its impact on life in the West Bank has been enormous.

Mark Thomas - as only he could - decided the only way to really get to grips with this huge divide was to use the barrier as a route map, to 'walk the wall', covering the entire distance with little more in his armoury than Kendal Mint Cake and a box of blister plasters.

In the course of his ramble he was tear-gassed, stoned, sunburned, rained on and hailed on and even lost the wall a couple of times. But thankfully he was also welcomed and looked after by Israelis and Palestinians - from farmers and soldiers to smugglers and zookeepers - and finally earned a unique insight of the real Middle East in all its entrenched and yet life-affirming glory. And all without hardly ever getting arrested!
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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 126 x 198 x 22mm | 239g
  • Ebury Press
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, maps
  • 0091927811
  • 9780091927813
  • 217,114

Review Text

"A terrific, funny read"
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Review quote

"John Pilger with laughs" * Guardian * "A terrific, funny read" * Shortlist * "Horrifying and hilarious" * Evening Standard *
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About Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas has worked as a comedian for over twenty years. His activist, campaigning brand of comedy has been a thorn in the side of many politicians and corporations. However, recently he has been invited to give evidence at various government select committees. He is one of a limited number of people to be awarded a UN Global Human Rights Defender Award and has also been awarded a Kurdish National Congress Medal of Honour amongst other citations. His three-year campaign to stop the building of the Ilisu dam in Turkey was ultimately successful and saved 78,000 Kurds from being displaced.
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Rating details

547 ratings
4.08 out of 5 stars
5 35% (193)
4 43% (234)
3 17% (94)
2 4% (23)
1 1% (3)

Our customer reviews

(includes spoilers) Is the Security Barrier really a security device to protect Israel against suicide bombings, or a poor attempt at land grabbing, one that in fact perpetuates hate and could well cause the very thing it hopes to prevent? Mark Thomas presents both sides of the story as he rambles down the length of the Barrier with cameraman Phil Stebbing and characters from both sides of the divide, although he never tries to hide his pro-Palestinian leanings, or his contempt of the militant pro-Wall supporters. That might set some readers against the book, but I'd say read it before you judge it. Extreme Rambling is a politically charged travelogue/reportage about the impact the Barrier Israel has built to cordon off the West Bank. With sometimes self-depracating humor, Thomas reveals ridiculous, yet often sad, shocking and horrifying facts as he walks both sides of the Wall, judged to be illegal by the International Court of Justice. With light writing and insightful interviews with Palestinians villagers and politicians, as well as Israeli settlers, administrators, politicians and anti-Wall activists, he manages to explain the issue very clearly as he documents the Wall's existence and the impact it and the Israeli Occupation have had on Palestinians, like: - towns divided, with agricultural land lost to the Israeli side of the Barrier; - economies of border towns shut down; - Palestinians made jobless because they aren't allowed to cross into Israel; - Palestinians evicted from their homes or made to apply for permits from Israel to continue living in their own homes; - Palestinian towns forced to apply for Israeli permits (often denied) to build everything from schools to hospitals; or slapped with demolition orders against (or which have had demolished) roads and existing buildings, from mosques to homes; - West Bank Palestinians forced to live next to polluting Israeli factories that have been denied the right to operate on Israeli land; or denied the right to build a waste water treatment plant for their town; - children forced to walk to school through a tunnel they share with human sewage; - access to water supplies limited by Israel; - a Palestinian village used as a live firing Israeli military training zone. Why is Israel doing all this? Israelis say: To ensure security against suicide bombings, the number of which Thomas quotes Israelis as saying has declined from 365 a year before the Wall to zero. Palestinians and Barrier opponents say: To grab more land for Israel with as few Palestinians in it as possible; to "persuade" Palestinians to leave their lands, made inhospitable with hardly bearable living conditions; to cut East Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank, making it impossible for Palestine to have a capital there. At what point do such actions justified under the guise of security become a violation of human rights and ethnic cleansing? When you discriminate on racist grounds and take away people's dignity, would you not create a sense of rage and an urge to retaliate? Thomas raises these questions and makes an excellent point when he says: "...when you make kids walk through tunnels of human s**t and stop a father seeing his sick baby, then I reckon you will probably need that security." Thomas adopts a casual and irreverent tone (plus lots of rude comments) that makes the book very readable although the humor at time seems forced. But the strength of the book lies not in the writing but in the information it imparts and the stories of the ordinary lives affected by the crisis. For someone who has admittedly not been following related news closely, Extreme Rambling was a true eye opener.show more
by liberal sprinkles
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