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The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East
(Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read)

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Published:
W. W. Norton & Company 2017
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Available from OverDrive
Description

Chronically questioning, funny, and bold, a young American explores the majority-Muslim lands that scare him most.


Armed only with college Arabic and restless curiosity, Adam Valen Levinson sets out to "learn about the world 9/11 made us fear." From a base in globalized and sterilized Abu Dhabi, he sets out to lunch in Taliban territory in Afghanistan, travels under the watchful eye of Syria's secret police, risks shipwreck en route to Somalia, investigates Yazidi beliefs in a sacred cave, cliff dives in Oman, celebrates New Year's Eve in Tahrir Square, and, at every turn, discovers a place that matches not at all with its reputation.


Valen Levinson crosses borders with wisecracking humor, erudition, and humanity, seeking common ground with "bros" everywhere, and finding that people who pray differently often laugh the same. And as a young man bar mitzvahed eight years late, he slowly learns how childish it is to live by decisions and distinctions born of fear.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
11/14/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780393608373
ASIN:
B06XH318X2
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Adam Valen Levinson. (2017). The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Adam Valen Levinson. 2017. The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Adam Valen Levinson, The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East. W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Adam Valen Levinson. The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East. W. W. Norton & Company, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 16:40:08
Date Updated:
Dec 06, 2020 02:43:25
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      • bioText: Adam Valen Levinson is a journalist and travel writer whose work focuses on human stories in conflict areas. His work has appeared in numerous outlets, including VICE, the Paris Review, Al Jazeera, and Haaretz. He is an affiliate of the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., and a fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, studying humor as a key to cultural understanding.
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shortDescription

Chronically questioning, funny, and bold, a young American writer explores the majority-Muslim lands that scare him most.

Armed only with college Arabic and restless curiosity, Adam Valen Levinson set out to "learn about the world 9/11 made us fear." From a base in globalized and sterilized Abu Dhabi, he sets out to lunch in Taliban territory in Afghanistan, travels under the watchful eye of Aleppo's secret police, risks shipwreck en route to Somalia, investigates Yazidi beliefs in a sacred cave, cliff-dives in Oman, celebrates New Year's Eve in Tahrir Square, and, at every turn, discovers a place that matches not at all with its reputation.

While politicians and media eagerly stoke the flames of Islamophobia, Valen Levinson crosses borders with abundant humor and humanity. Seeking common ground everywhere, he finds that people who pray differently often laugh the same. And as a young man bar mitzvahed at twenty-one (instead of the usual thirteen), he slowly...

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title
The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah
fullDescription

Chronically questioning, funny, and bold, a young American explores the majority-Muslim lands that scare him most.

Armed only with college Arabic and restless curiosity, Adam Valen Levinson sets out to "learn about the world 9/11 made us fear." From a base in globalized and sterilized Abu Dhabi, he sets out to lunch in Taliban territory in Afghanistan, travels under the watchful eye of Syria's secret police, risks shipwreck en route to Somalia, investigates Yazidi beliefs in a sacred cave, cliff dives in Oman, celebrates New Year's Eve in Tahrir Square, and, at every turn, discovers a place that matches not at all with its reputation.

Valen Levinson crosses borders with wisecracking humor, erudition, and humanity, seeking common ground with "bros" everywhere, and finding that people who pray differently often laugh the same. And as a young man bar mitzvahed eight years late, he slowly learns how childish it is to live by decisions and distinctions born of fear.

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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 1, 2017
        While the blank spaces on the maps have long since been filled in, the psychological barriers walling off regions of the world where Westerners dare not tread are as tall as ever. Here, a "multimedia backpack journalist" explores some of them.Levinson, fresh out of college, with fortuitously ambiguous ethnic features and something of a talent for languages, pushed the bounds of his comfort zone to encompass Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, and other Muslim-majority places. Travel writers have done this before--for every breezy account of summer in Spain, there's a breathless dispatch from a leaky motorboat on the Congo--but Levinson manages to establish his own voice admirably, with an endearing mixture of ironic self-awareness, incisive sociological analysis, and simple humor. When the author, a fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale, arrived in the United Arab Emirates, he struggled to get his bearings: "The chord changes of the country, the cultural-religious-historical roots that still hold sway are hard to find, and so I felt like we were just skimming the surface, ready to drift off into nothingness." But as he ventured further afield to locales ever further "along the axis of perceived terror," that sense of cultural displacement became an opening through which he was able to glimpse a shared humanity. Using humor to connect with the locals, as with his readers, he makes pithy observations at once earnest and ironic, eventually asking, "was I so biased that I cherry-picked the memories I wanted to have? So committed to contesting the darkness that all I saw was light?" The author's linguistic riffs are a highlight and more insightful than the norm for travel writing. Of Arabic's most popular word, he writes, "inshallah carries no judgement of probability. It is weighted only toward what you believe....The way you feel in the moment between inshallah and conscious thought--that is your default setting on the spectrum from optimism to despair."While Karachi or Aleppo may not be next year's hot vacation destinations, Levinson proves there's ample reason to go.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        October 16, 2017
        In this aimless memoir, freelance writer Valen Levinson chronicles a trek across the Middle East to grasp a part of the world that holds a fascination for him. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, ignited a peculiar curiosity in Valen Levinson, then a middle schooler; he “moved to New York to lock eyes with my bogeyman” and studied at Columbia University. After college he took a job at New York University Abu Dhabi and used that as a base camp travel throughout the Middle East. “Unburdened by guidebooks and online reviews and knowledge, everything was a little discovery,” he writes. “The thrill of novelty comes easy for the ill-informed.” He clumsily refuted the amorous advances of an eager Lebanese soldier, noting that “Lebanese hair gel and friendship are not American hair gel and friendship.” He visited the house where Osama bin Laden was killed, got bar mitzvahed in a quick celebration before work, and, throughout, tried to blend in despite being “a white man entirely outside of caste.” But Valen Levinson’s’s good intentions and open mind get lost within a meandering narrative that dilutes Valen Levinson’s spiritual awakening and the humanity of the countries he visits.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 15, 2017

        Fresh out of Columbia University in 2010, Levinson travels to Abu Dhabi to work as a program coordinator for one of New York University's overseas campuses. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates. Using Abu Dhabi as his base, Levinson spends more than a year exploring dangerous corners of the Arab and Muslim world and facing his fears (both real and imagined) as an American Jew shaped by the events of September 11, 2001. His travels precede, coincide with, and follow the Arab Spring, taking him to Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, and Somalia. Redacted emails from his girlfriend and father are interspersed throughout; some photographs provide local color. VERDICT Levinson is a gifted storyteller. His audience might be best characterized as peripatetic expatriates, curious travelers seeking linguistic underpinnings of Arab culture, or twentysomethings examining religious identities in a post-9/11 world.--Elizabeth Connor, Daniel Lib., The Citadel, Military Coll. of South Carolina, CharlestonLove and art in wartime; a call to action against racial injustice; a young marine shares his story

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        September 15, 2017
        Levinson was an eighth-grader in Philadelphia in 2001 and knows now that 9/11 gave him lenses to see the world. Significantly, it fueled in him a need to not fear the Middle East, a swath of the map about which the world seemed to say, Don't go here. In 2010, he graduated from college, where he'd nurtured his interest in the region through language and political-science courses, underwent 10 weeks of intensive Arabic, and moved to the UAE to work as a program coordinator for NYUAbu Dhabi. He quickly escapes the restless comfort of his apartment and undemanding job and uses time off and personal connections to explore the Middle East. Over a year and a half that's soon marked as the beginning of the Arab Spring, he visits more than 20 countriesfacing Osama Bin Ladan's Abbottabad hideout, meeting revolutionaries in Tahrir Square wanting to distinguish between facts and fears everywhere he goes. Levinson skillfully relates aspects of his destinations' histories alongside his journalist's observations and personal thoughts and emotions in this unique and illuminating travelogue.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

subtitle
Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East
popularity
52
publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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