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by Meyer Levin
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Acclaimed as the Jewish War and Peace, The Settlers, along with its sequel The Harvest, marks the crowning achievement of the author Norman Mailer hailed as "one of the best American writers working in the realistic tradition." At the turn of the twentieth century, Feigel and Yankel Chaimovitch are among the many Russian Jews caught up in the nascent revolution. Worried that their two oldest children, Reuven and Leah, could be rounded up into a pogrom, Feigel and Yankel allow them to scout out if their ancient homeland, Eretz Yisroel, is the refuge they're searching for. Soon, Leah and Reuven write with promising news: all is good, and Eretz Yisroel is a land of unparalleled beauty. Buoyed by the good reports, the Chaimovitch family flees Russia to begin anew. Yet not everything is as easy as Leah's reports had made it sound. The pioneers face innumerable hardships: poverty, disease, grueling physical labor, and tensions with their Arab neighbors that often erupt into violence. Even within their own ranks there are frequent conflicts, especially between new arrivals and established settlers. And as World War I escalates, each family member -- from second-oldest son Gidon, struggling through the disastrous Gallipoi campaign, to Leah, awaiting the return of her fickle Moshe -- struggles to build a life and a future. Drawing on personal experience and decades of research, Meyer Levin blends true-life figures and events into an epic that is at once a riveting historical document and a superb literary achievement.
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