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Contested Land, Contested Memory – By Jo Roberts

Israel's Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe

By Jo Roberts


  • Amazon Kindle: eBook $11.99
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  • Paperback $24.99
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Awards and prizes

National Jewish Book Award (History Category) (2013)
Dayton Literary Peace Prize (2014)

Reviews and comments on
Contested Land, Contested Memory

In this moving, lyrical, and very important book, with some of the bravest and most honest of Israelis and Palestinians as guides, Roberts offers readers an intimate, often searing tour of the country’s psychological landscape.

Professor Ian Lustick, , Bess W. Heyman Chair of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

This compelling and compassionate book offers fresh insight into how these divergent histories reverberate in Israel today, examining how selective memories of suffering that exclude the ‘other’ impede reconciliation and a just peace.

Mubarak Awad, founder, Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence

[A] beautifully written book … Jo Roberts captures the voices of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis in all their diversity, pain, and eloquence.

Professor Michael Rothberg, director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies Initiative at the University of Illinois

[T]his nuanced, empathic, and knowledgeable book is an important read for supporters of [both Israelis and Palestinians], and for people seeking a book through which to enter the charged field of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hillel Cohen, Israeli historian and journalist

Roberts does a masterful job of presenting all perspectives in their proper context.

Publishers Weekly

[Roberts’s] writing has academic credibility and personal appeal. If that sounds unlikely, it is. Only a writer as good as Roberts could make it work—but work it does, as it proceeds to unravel Israel’s paradoxical political identity.


The author significantly contributes to the historiography of 1948, particularly in her presentation of the lesser-known experiences of displaced Palestinians who remained in what became Israel after the war.

Electronic Intifada

A short review such as this cannot do justice to a book which narrates in rich detail the history of the Jews in Europe leading to the founding of the State of Israel and its impact on the local population of Palestine. The discussion of identity, statehood and the role of narrative give a context for the sources of the conflicts and their continuation.

Jewish Renaissance

. . . Roberts provides an engaging introduction to the significance of collective memory in Israeli and Palestinian education, geography, and law. What results is a diverse anthology of the ways these divergent memories affect the current culture and conflict.

Writers have used collective memory to explore the history of groups besides Israelis and Palestinians, but Contested Land, Contested Memory distinguishes itself on several counts. First, Roberts' fine writing makes the discourse of collective memory more accessible than many other books do. And because the catastrophes that concern her happened fairly recently, Roberts is able to use the memories of actual Palestinian and Jewish Israelis to frame her subject matter.

National Catholic Reporter

Roberts’s formal arguments have a lapidary quality that makes them appear nearly self-evident. I thought more than once, “I knew that. She’s got that just right, and I couldn’t say it better.”

America: The National Catholic Review