brooklyn book store

these just in … 24 January, 2008

Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror
by Jeffrey Goldberg

Paperback $14.95

Not a light read, this memoir of the author, an American-bred Zionist, and his 15-year relationship with a Palestinian insurgent is bound to have detractors, in part because New Yorker Washington correspondent Goldberg is painfully honest—about his dreams, limitations and anxieties. “I wanted to… have it all,” he writes, “my parochialism, my universalism, a clean conscience, and a friendship with my enemy.” Goldberg lived in Israel as a college student, sharpening the contradictory emotions shared by many of his American peers and eventually watching his former certainty crumble under the weight of military service at Ketziot, an Israeli prison. Grounded in his relationship with a prisoner, Goldberg’s book travels from Long Island to Afghanistan as he struggles to understand Israeli-Palestinian violence. His honesty is itself high recommendation; the book is also marked by beautiful turns of phrase and a forthrightness that saves it from occasional self-importance. Some readers will argue with some of Goldberg’s assertions (such as his reading of Israel’s offer to Arafat at Camp David), and the author’s halting recognition of the role despair plays in shaping Palestinian thought. Like the warring nationalisms it presents, his book is complex and deeply affecting.

Real Food: What to Eat and Why (Paperback)
by Nina Planck

Paperback $14.95

Nina Planck is a good, stylish writer and a dogged researcher who writes directly, forthrightly and with an edge. She isn’t afraid to make the occasional wisecrack (”No doubt, for some people, cracking open an egg is one chore too many”) while taking unpopular positions. Her chosen field—she is a champion of “real” (as opposed to industrialized) food—is one in which unpopular positions are easy to find. As Planck reveals, in her compellingly smart Real Food: What to Eat and Why, much of what we have learned about nutrition in the past generation or so is either misinformed or dead wrong, and almost all of the food invented in the last century, and especially since the Second World War, is worse than almost all of the food that we’ve been eating since we developed agriculture. This means, she says, that butter is better than margarine (so, for that matter, is lard); that whole eggs (especially those laid by hens who scratch around in the dirt) are better than egg whites, and that eggs in general are an integral part of a sound diet; that full-fat milk is preferable to skim, raw preferable to pasteurized, au naturel preferable to homogenized. She goes so far as to maintain—horror of horrors—that chopped liver mixed with real schmaltz and hard-boiled eggs is, in a very real way, a form of health food. Like those who’ve paved the way before her, she urges us to eat in a natural, old-fashioned way. But unlike many of them, and unlike her sometimes overbearing compatriots in the Slow Food movement, she is far from dogmatic, making her case casually, gently, persuasively. And personally, Planck’s philosophy grows directly out of her life history, which included a pair of well-educated parents who decided, when the author was two, to pull up stakes in Buffalo, N.Y., and take up farming in northern Virginia. Planck, therefore, grew up among that odd combination of rural farming intellectuals who not only wanted to raise food for a living but could explain why it made sense. Planck, who is now an author and a creator and manager of farmers’ markets, has a message that can be—