MembersMark Twain’s Dreamland

In May 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu presented his host in Washington, Barack Obama, with the book “The Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain.

By Avshalom Kapach |
Mark Twain
Photo: Public domain

The American author had written this travel diary on the occasion of his world tour in the year 1867. The high point of this tour was crossing the Holy Land. Twain’s experiences in Eretz Israel, his descriptions of the landscape and the towns, are a fascinating testimony from the perspective of the last years of the 19th century. The individual columns were sent back home while he was still on his travels, where they were published in the American press. “The Innocents Abroad” became an instant best-seller.

More than one hundred years have passed since the book was written. Mark Twain’s description stands in stark contrast to the picture of the Holy Land that the reader of the Bible might have, and as it appears in certain literature by pilgrims. The book is humorous, sarcastic and sometimes even vulgar in style. Out of all the countries with dismal landscapes, the Land of Israel was the most dismal. The globetrotter describes bare hills, pale colors, a land of uncultivated ground, deserted, marshland, devoid of inhabitants. He holds the Ottoman Empire responsible...

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