Click to read the Introduction to Live from Jordan
On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, 27-year old Pittsburgh native and grad student Benjamin Orbach traveled to Amman, Jordan, in search of answers. Young, confident, and optimistic, Orbach anointed himself America’s secret diplomatic weapon. He was finishing a degree in Middle Eastern studies, had a working knowledge of Arabic, and possessed enough determination to “negotiate a peace treaty.” He also had no place to live, little money, and no friends to speak of in Jordan. As Ben Orbach spent his first few days in the Middle East searching for a hot shower, the address of his new flat, and a decent haircut, he began to discover something unexpected and much more important. In the cafes and salons, and on the buses and streets of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Turkey, he found conflicted, curious, and multi-layered people who had more to teach him than he ever imagined. From bustling bazaars to an underground brothel, Live from Jordan is the incredible story, told via eloquent, thoughtful, and irreverent letters home, of Orbach’s 13-month journey through the Middle East.
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Through Orbach’s eyes, we begin to see a world where nothing is quite what it seems, a world more intricate than what is portrayed in thirty-second sound bites on television. We meet people like Sundos, a shy JordanUniversity freshman who digs surfing the internet and Fadi, his passionate Palestinian flat mate, who belts out the lyrics of Mariah Carey songs and decries the policies of George Bush. From the privileged young clubbers of Amman, to the beleaguered workers who cram themselves into buses everyday, we begin to see a different, more nuanced Middle East. As he travels from the throbbing streets of Cairo to the friendly living rooms of ordinary people in Jordan, Ben Orbach offers an honest, balanced portrait of a region in turmoil. Live from Jordan is a myth-breaking book, combining the lyricism of a travelogue with the insight of reportage. Engaging, witty, and evocative, Live from Jordan transports us to a world that is more complex, more beautiful, and more seductive than many of us have ever imagined.