Promised Land is a family saga set during the first two decades of the creation of Israel. Arie and Peter are brothers, separated when they were 14 when Peter’s parents sent him to the US before war broke out and the situation got even worse for Jews in Germany. Arie survived Auschwitz and went to Israel, where he built himself up into a business tycoon. Peter left the US army and joined Mossad. The brothers were united, both holding secret feelings of guilt about how they had survived the war. Tamara and her family are Egyptian Jews who fled Egypt to Israel after WW2, meeting the brothers on the same day in a transit camp they were passing through, sealing their mutual fates for good.
I’m a huge fan of both Leon Uris and Herman Wouk. Wouk’s tremendous works on the birth of Israel, The Hope, and The Glory, set the bar super high for me when it comes to historical fiction set in post WW2 Israel, so it is honestly hard to beat that excellence for me. Promised Land is however a compulsively readable novel, and the historical accuracy and use of the author’s knowledge in the storyline is brilliant. Where it didn’t quite make it for me was in the character development and family-related storylines.
The whole love triangle part just didn’t quite work for me, and I found a lot of the characters stilted, flat, and stereotypical. For example, women were often described as if they are trophies, and a lot of the descriptions of “delicious” women’s bodies made me cringe. They have jobs and important parts in the storyline, but they are still often relegated to the back, medals that the men earn, and discard as they wish. Having personally lived in Israel and worked among kibbutzniks and families in desert moshavs, the characters just felt too stereotypical for my liking. However, the descriptions of intrigue, spy games, and wars, as well as the background of Israel in general were really good, and kept me reading until the very end.
This ended up being a 3.5 for me. The story flows and it’s easy to read, but there are moments within the family storyline that are not so believable. Historically though it is very accurate. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!