The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East

Norton. Nov. 2017. 320p. illus. ISBN 9780393608366. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393608373. TRAV
Fresh out of Columbia University in 2010, Levinson travels to Abu Dhabi to work as a program coordinator for one of New York University's overseas campuses. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates. Using Abu Dhabi as his base, Levinson spends more than a year exploring dangerous corners of the Arab and Muslim world and facing his fears (both real and imagined) as an American Jew shaped by the events of September 11, 2001. His travels precede, coincide with, and follow the Arab Spring, taking him to Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, and Somalia. Redacted emails from his girlfriend and father are interspersed throughout; some photographs provide local color.
VERDICT Levinson is a gifted storyteller. His audience might be best characterized as peripatetic expatriates, curious travelers seeking linguistic underpinnings of Arab culture, or twentysomethings examining religious identities in a post-9/11 world.

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