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An American Jew: A Writer Confronts His Own Exile and Identity

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Steven Pressfield grew up assuming he was like every other kid in his red-white-and-blue, Sunday-School attending, Christmas-tree decorating suburb. Then at age thirteen he found out he was in fact not a member of that tribe, but of a very different one. Five decades later, in November 2011, Pressfield boarded an El Al jet bound for Israel. At long last, he'd committed to Steven Pressfield grew up assuming he was like every other kid in his red-white-and-blue, Sunday-School attending, Christmas-tree decorating suburb. Then at age thirteen he found out he was in fact not a member of that tribe, but of a very different one. Five decades later, in November 2011, Pressfield boarded an El Al jet bound for Israel. At long last, he'd committed to researching and writing THE LION'S GATE, a book that would finally wrestle with the riddle of his own identity. What he learned as an artist and a man in the three years it took to complete the work is the subject of AN AMERICAN JEW, an on-the-front-lines account of the creative process...in all its wonderfully confounding forms.


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Steven Pressfield grew up assuming he was like every other kid in his red-white-and-blue, Sunday-School attending, Christmas-tree decorating suburb. Then at age thirteen he found out he was in fact not a member of that tribe, but of a very different one. Five decades later, in November 2011, Pressfield boarded an El Al jet bound for Israel. At long last, he'd committed to Steven Pressfield grew up assuming he was like every other kid in his red-white-and-blue, Sunday-School attending, Christmas-tree decorating suburb. Then at age thirteen he found out he was in fact not a member of that tribe, but of a very different one. Five decades later, in November 2011, Pressfield boarded an El Al jet bound for Israel. At long last, he'd committed to researching and writing THE LION'S GATE, a book that would finally wrestle with the riddle of his own identity. What he learned as an artist and a man in the three years it took to complete the work is the subject of AN AMERICAN JEW, an on-the-front-lines account of the creative process...in all its wonderfully confounding forms.

46 review for An American Jew: A Writer Confronts His Own Exile and Identity

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lee Tyler

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a third reading as I keep coming back to it as both writer and reader. It is his writing notes as he writes The Lion's Gate, another book I highly recommend though you might be thrown by the pov. The American Jew is as honest and truthful a recording of a writer's journey as well as a molding of a new identity. It also chronicles the fears the author must confront as he takes on an epic challenge that is (now) quite a part of his identity. A stunningly truthful book. I kept writing notes This is a third reading as I keep coming back to it as both writer and reader. It is his writing notes as he writes The Lion's Gate, another book I highly recommend though you might be thrown by the pov. The American Jew is as honest and truthful a recording of a writer's journey as well as a molding of a new identity. It also chronicles the fears the author must confront as he takes on an epic challenge that is (now) quite a part of his identity. A stunningly truthful book. I kept writing notes trying to pin down the overarching theme of the book. "Its really about this.", or, "No, really it's about this." It's a book that won't let you alone; I can vouch for that!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Samuel W

    Profoundly insightful and moving I have read eight of his books, now. Mostly the novels. As with the others , the prose in this book is crisp and clear and very readable. A lot of this book is quotations from “The Lion’s Gate,” but I enjoyed reading them again. The end, which deals with his personal experience with Jewishness both before and after doing the research and writing “The Lion’s Gate” was particularly relevant and poignant to me, also an American Jew. As with all of his books, I learne Profoundly insightful and moving I have read eight of his books, now. Mostly the novels. As with the others , the prose in this book is crisp and clear and very readable. A lot of this book is quotations from “The Lion’s Gate,” but I enjoyed reading them again. The end, which deals with his personal experience with Jewishness both before and after doing the research and writing “The Lion’s Gate” was particularly relevant and poignant to me, also an American Jew. As with all of his books, I learned a greAt deal from reading it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    LA Abrams

    I enjoyed this book as a writer and as someone who reads about Israeli history and current events. Pressfield knows how to grab you from the first page. He writes about his background, how he came to the idea for The Lion’s Gate, and his process in conceiving, researching, and writing the book. He also writes about how the book changed him, and the complicated issues of identity. There are excerpts from The Lion’s Gate, helpful for those who have not read the book, but you do not have to have re I enjoyed this book as a writer and as someone who reads about Israeli history and current events. Pressfield knows how to grab you from the first page. He writes about his background, how he came to the idea for The Lion’s Gate, and his process in conceiving, researching, and writing the book. He also writes about how the book changed him, and the complicated issues of identity. There are excerpts from The Lion’s Gate, helpful for those who have not read the book, but you do not have to have read it to appreciate An American Jew.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane Dreher

    Fascinating story of a writer’s odyssey as he journeys to Israel to research his book, Lion’s Gate, and explores his own Jewish heritage. Highly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hasadda

    I read this book before Lion's Gate by the same author. It covers the research and access he got in order to write the Lion's Gate. I very much respect all the players involved in the Six Day War in Israel. Excellent research and very well written. Once again, I fail to understand how Moshe Dayan can be chosen as the hero when he gave the arabs access to the Holy Sites of Cave of the Patriarchs (Machpeleh) in Hevron and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem when they were liberated in 1967. Than is my re I read this book before Lion's Gate by the same author. It covers the research and access he got in order to write the Lion's Gate. I very much respect all the players involved in the Six Day War in Israel. Excellent research and very well written. Once again, I fail to understand how Moshe Dayan can be chosen as the hero when he gave the arabs access to the Holy Sites of Cave of the Patriarchs (Machpeleh) in Hevron and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem when they were liberated in 1967. Than is my reasoning for giving 4 stars to this book. I find that difficult to approve of.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anne Gazzolo

    Really gives you great admiration and respect for the people of Israel who fought so hard against mortal foes much greater in strength and who won so handily. Also a great look into the creative writing process of The Lions Gate which details this tremendous victory.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nick DiNardo

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nila Wagner

  9. 5 out of 5

    Henry

  10. 5 out of 5

    Regina

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Di Lillo

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel V Boucher

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tim Downie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sally Jane Driscoll

  15. 5 out of 5

    Blake Atwood

  16. 4 out of 5

    Júlio Barroco

  17. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin L Carlisle

  18. 5 out of 5

    Martin E. Weinstein

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Trinetti

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stuart H Crepea

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ben Crawford

  22. 4 out of 5

    Scott Beckman

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nicky Billou

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Woodburn

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Wellington

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sean Harry

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ed

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mason Weiss

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ross McKillip

  31. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  32. 5 out of 5

    John Orsini

  33. 5 out of 5

    michellg1585

  34. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  35. 5 out of 5

    Pandit Trouble Jr.

  36. 5 out of 5

    Ellis Pines

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jake

  38. 4 out of 5

    sandy wisecup

  39. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Greenwald

  40. 4 out of 5

    Douglas M.

  41. 5 out of 5

    Adele Bolson

  42. 4 out of 5

    John

  43. 4 out of 5

    E.W. Pierce

  44. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  45. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Wilson

  46. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

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