Conflict in the Bone

Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg

Rare is the book that keeps me thinking long after I've finished the last page, especially when the book is not a ponderous philosophical tome but a vivid page turner. I was well aware of Jeffrey Goldberg's narrative tricks in his memoir Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide from the first line which sucked me in with intimations of a kidnapping then dropped me just before the climax into a leisurely narrative of his childhood. Okay, fine, he can tell a story.

But what kept revolving around my head long after I'd worked out the plot (it's a memoir, so, you know, he survives) was just how close to the surface his emotions are from start to finish. Which is not to say that he's scared. Goldberg styles himself a tough guy (he shrugs off his captivity with a boast about having once talked his way past a hostile check point in the Congo), so we don't see a lot of fear here. What's on display, in fact, is an emotion much less acceptable in polite circles: his yearning for physical power, summed up in the worldview of his thirteen-year-old self as "Jews with guns."
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