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Short Synopsis
In a myth-busting analysis of the world's most intractable conflict, a star of Middle East reporting, "one of the most important writers" in the field (The New York Times), argues that only one weapon has yielded progress: force.

Full Synopsis
Scattered over the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea lie the remnants of failed peace proposals, international summits, secret negotiations, UN resolutions, and state-building efforts. The conventional story is that these well-meaning attempts at peacemaking were repeatedly, perhaps terminally, thwarted by violence.

Through a rich interweaving of reportage, historical narrative, and powerful analysis, Nathan Thrall presents a startling counter-history. He shows that force has impelled each side to make its largest concessions, from Palestinian acceptance of a two-state solution to Israeli territorial withdrawals. This simple fact has been neglected by the world powers, which have expended countless resources on initiatives meant to diminish friction between the parties. By quashing any hint of confrontation and providing bounteous economic and military assistance, the United States and Europe have merely entrenched the conflict by lessening the incentives to end it. Thrall's important book upends the beliefs steering these failed policies, revealing how the aversion of pain, not the promise of peace, has driven compromise for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

"[Thrall's] argument is smart and hard to dispute." ---New York Times

"This learned and candid book is a genuine contribution to our understanding of an increasingly frightening conflict.” ---Leon Wieseltier

"This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why this conflict is so intractable and remains unresolved.” ---Rashid Khalidi, author of Brokers of Deceit

“A terrific piece of analysis by a keen and empathic observer of the region.” ---Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower

"Eloquent, fact-rich, full of vivid characters, and relentlessly contemporary in its narrative, The Only Language They Understand is a withering indictment of conventional wisdom-and a necessary, essential book.”---Mark Danner, author of Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War

The Only Language They Understand

Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine

Author Nathan Thrall

Narrated by Stephen R. Thorne

Publication date May 16, 2017

Running time 9 hrs 2 min

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