By Eleanor J. BaderTruthout, Book Review, published on November 10, 2014

Book: Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation  compiled and edited by Cate Malek and Mateo Hoke, Voices of Witness, 2014

Writer and radio personality Studs Terkel (1912-2008) is widely credited with popularizing the idea of oral history, the notion that allowing people to describe their lives and experiences themselves, without interpretation or analytic filters, provides a way into history that is both powerful and meaningful. Terkel was a master at making diverse people – including the regular folks who are rarely interviewed – comfortable talking, and whether the subject was work, economic hardship, race or aging, he got them to open up and share revealing, and often poignant, memories, ideas and impressions.

Terkel influenced scores of journalists and scholars, among them, the staff at Voices of Witness, a nonprofit, California-based publishing project that seeks to “illuminate human rights crises” by giving people a platform to tell their stories. Their latest effort, Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation, compiled and edited by Cate Malek and Mateo Hoke, does this and then some.

Malek and Hoke spent four years, 2010 to the summer of 2014, conducting more than 250 hours of interviews in the West Bank and Gaza and ultimately culled the material into 16 chapters. The range is broad and includes a Jewish Israeli who moved to the West Bank in solidarity with her Palestinian friends and a middle-aged Palestinian professor who helped found the International Solidarity Movement. Their stories appear alongside those of homemakers, writers, teachers, artists, athletes, community activists and fishermen to give readers a picture of harrowing subjugation. Needless to say, the accounts are hard to read, painful in their matter-of-fact depiction of everyday oppression.

Read the full article here.