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It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real. The dream: a school to transform the lives of thous It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real. The dream: a school to transform the lives of thousands of children--as Ramzi's life was transformed--through music. Musicians from all over the world came to help. A violist left the London Symphony Orchestra, in part to work with Ramzi at his new school, Al Kamandjati. An aspiring British opera singer moved to the West Bank to teach voice lessons. Daniel Barenboim, the eminent Israeli conductor, invited Ramzi to join his West Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he founded with the late Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said. Since then the two have played together frequently. "Ramzi has transformed not only his life, his destiny, but that of many other people," Barenboim said. "This is an extraordinary collection of children from all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life." Children of the Stone chronicles Ramzi's journey--from stone thrower to music student to school founder--and shows how through his love of music he created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war. This is a story about the power of music, first, but also about freedom and conflict, determination and vision. It's a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the prospects of musical collaboration across the Israeli–Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children everywhere see new possibilities for their lives.


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It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real. The dream: a school to transform the lives of thous It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real. The dream: a school to transform the lives of thousands of children--as Ramzi's life was transformed--through music. Musicians from all over the world came to help. A violist left the London Symphony Orchestra, in part to work with Ramzi at his new school, Al Kamandjati. An aspiring British opera singer moved to the West Bank to teach voice lessons. Daniel Barenboim, the eminent Israeli conductor, invited Ramzi to join his West Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he founded with the late Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said. Since then the two have played together frequently. "Ramzi has transformed not only his life, his destiny, but that of many other people," Barenboim said. "This is an extraordinary collection of children from all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life." Children of the Stone chronicles Ramzi's journey--from stone thrower to music student to school founder--and shows how through his love of music he created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war. This is a story about the power of music, first, but also about freedom and conflict, determination and vision. It's a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the prospects of musical collaboration across the Israeli–Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children everywhere see new possibilities for their lives.

30 review for Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Anyone who read and appreciated The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East will certainly also appreciate Children of the Stone where Tolan follows the life of one of the stone-throwing children of one of the over crowded Palestinian refugee camps of the West Bank. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan is one of these children, but he has a dream and also comes under the influence of many individuals who assist him in developing and furthering that dream. The dream--to use music to help Anyone who read and appreciated The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East will certainly also appreciate Children of the Stone where Tolan follows the life of one of the stone-throwing children of one of the over crowded Palestinian refugee camps of the West Bank. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan is one of these children, but he has a dream and also comes under the influence of many individuals who assist him in developing and furthering that dream. The dream--to use music to help Palestinian children find purpose and meaning in their lives. This is where those who love the power of music will also appreciate Tolan's story...the story of young refugee children who have nothing but dirt and cement roads to play in and occasional schools to attend (when these are not shut down sporadically by the occupying Israeli army). Into this atmosphere in which he also grew up, Ramzi dreams of learning music, developing skills and someday building a school for other Palestinian children where they can live a different life, a life of possibility amid the circumscribed life in the Occupied Territories. Tolan provides much information on the multi-faceted situation of Israel/Palestine, the refugee camps, the issues of return, the two state solution and its apparent decease with more recent developments, all through watching the growth and development of Ramzi as a child, teen, young man, learning to play the viola, playing with various orchestras in Europe and in the Middle East. Then there is the goal. Teachers and visiting musicians often asked whether Ramzi was more of a musician or an activist, but to Ramzi the question was irrelevant. To him music was intrinsic to the protection of his students, the penetration across splintered landscapes, and the resistance to military domination. Music devoid of politics, Ramzi believed, was impossible under occupation. Now, too, politics was impossible for Ramzi without music....Ramzi, and many of his students and teachers, saw themselves as part of a larger movement of nonviolent action to protest the occupation, and in support of Palestinian independence. (loc 3921) And how did the students respond to their opportunity to learn at the school? Rasha could not precisely describe the feeling this music gave her--Ramzi himself would laugh and say, "If I could tell you what I feel when I play, I wouldn't need to play"--but she did know that Bach's Sonata no. 2, arranged for flute, affected her most deeply. Others have described Bach's sonatas and partitas as his most brilliant and emotional: "like a prayer book," "a life time's journey,"....Rasha, playing the Sonata no. 2, adapted for her flute, nearly three centuries after it was written, simply thought: "It makes me happy." (loc 3348) And I have chosen as my last selection to quote from the book this wonderful picture of cross-cultural exchange. On a school outing... Thus on a sunny June afternoon in Palestine, the sounds of a French folk song, converted to a funeral dirge in Budapest by a Jewish composer from Bohemia, came to life in the two-hundred-year-old court yard of an Ottoman sheikh, performed by Palestinian children, themselves surrounded by Israeli tanks and settlements just beyond the palace walls. (loc 3308) I very strongly recommend this book to anyone seeking a new and different look at events in the Middle East, life for Palestinians 70 years after the creation of Israel and the beginning of their limbo. The lengthy Appendix of notes also provides many more areas for further exploration. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Imen Benyoub

    How wonderful to start the year with an incredible book, I am not entirely ready to write a review about this particular book, I feel overwhelmed and extremely grateful, but angry and frustrated at the same time.. I'll get back to this, until then, chokran Sandy Tolan, you did it again.. Officially one of the best who wrote about the Israeli Palestinian conflict xx thank you very much for your honesty, hard work and dedication..this book must be read by everyone who wishes to know the truth abou How wonderful to start the year with an incredible book, I am not entirely ready to write a review about this particular book, I feel overwhelmed and extremely grateful, but angry and frustrated at the same time.. I'll get back to this, until then, chokran Sandy Tolan, you did it again.. Officially one of the best who wrote about the Israeli Palestinian conflict xx thank you very much for your honesty, hard work and dedication..this book must be read by everyone who wishes to know the truth about the conflict, along with (lemon tree)..the truth with no bias or sugar-coated words..and those who, like me, believe in the power of music as a universal language..

  3. 5 out of 5

    Art

    Sunday, July 12, update: Ramzi and Sandy Tolan gave an interview to Lynn Neary on Weekend Edition this morning. http://www.npr.org/2015/07/12/4217523... May 2015, original comments: Very good. This is the story of children learning to play music in a war zone. Ramzi, as an eight-year-old Palestinian refugee, threw stones at Israeli soldiers. A photographer caught the 1988 incident, and Ramzi became famous. Seven years later, he picked up a viola, suggested for his large hands. Over time, Ramzi pa Sunday, July 12, update: Ramzi and Sandy Tolan gave an interview to Lynn Neary on Weekend Edition this morning. http://www.npr.org/2015/07/12/4217523... May 2015, original comments: Very good. This is the story of children learning to play music in a war zone. Ramzi, as an eight-year-old Palestinian refugee, threw stones at Israeli soldiers. A photographer caught the 1988 incident, and Ramzi became famous. Seven years later, he picked up a viola, suggested for his large hands. Over time, Ramzi parlayed that fame into a successful dream of music education for the kids in the refugee camps. "(The viola) describes all my emotions," said Ramzi. "The viola heals me." For Ramzi, the tactics of resistance changed since he threw those stones at Israeli soldiers. Ramzi considers his life as a form of resistance to the occupation. The presence of music in a child's life offers therapy and protection, writes Sandy Tolan. Music points the way to a more normal life beyond growing up in an occupied and stateless land. This is a thoroughly documented story, told through the experience of Ramzi. While we learn about him and the fulfillment of his dream, we also learn about the struggles and daily life in the region. There is as much music in this book as there is background, which becomes too much. A hundred pages of source notes follow the three-hundred page story. This story would make a good film. Plenty of drama, excitement, disappointments and, ultimately, the power of music over and over again in this hard-bitten land. Four and a half stars. Sandy Tolan, who grew up in Shorewood, gave this interview to Milwaukee Public Radio: http://wuwm.com/post/children-stone-m... The subtitle of the book brings to mind The Cellist of Sarajevo, a fine story based on real events. Also, the theme of music as a bridge between Arabs and Israelis brings to mind a fine documentary that played the film festival circuit last year, Dancing in Jaffa. http://www.dancinginjaffa.com

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I ended up being disappointed in this book. Initially it was good to humanize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and see more of the PLO's side, but the book was far more about politics than music. Since the music side of the story was why I truly wanted to read it, I quickly fatigued. When my library check out period expired, I had little reason to renew.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Xeni

    Okay, maybe it seems like I’m giving all books high ratings these days, but this was amazing. A friend gave me this book due to my obvious interests in Arabic and music. What Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan is doing for children in Lebanon and Palestine is pure magic. His story is amazing, and I hope that our paths will cross and I will be able to hear him play and meet him someday. I really admire his courage and passion to stay devoted to Palestine. His tough decisions regarding leaving the Divan Orch Okay, maybe it seems like I’m giving all books high ratings these days, but this was amazing. A friend gave me this book due to my obvious interests in Arabic and music. What Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan is doing for children in Lebanon and Palestine is pure magic. His story is amazing, and I hope that our paths will cross and I will be able to hear him play and meet him someday. I really admire his courage and passion to stay devoted to Palestine. His tough decisions regarding leaving the Divan Orchestra and refusing to accept aid from US organizations and American music scholarships are a testament to his principles. This is an amazing story, and I truly hope that more people will read it and understand the injustices that have happened and are continuing to happen in Palestine. This is also an excellent book for discussion, so I would love to read it in a classroom setting or in a book club one day. Maybe music cannot bring a resolution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict, but it can bring some peace to those suffering under the Israeli occupation.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maida

    This book was both heartwarming and very sad. People who live as we do in the United States need to read books like this to understand what is happening to people just like us with needs and wants, and how many of them have such struggles. I am doing a whole batch of books together that I have read this year, I did not read them all today.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pearl

    Sandy Tolan, author my all-time favorite book about the Middle East, "The Lemon Tree, A Jew, A Palestinian, and the Heart of the Middle East," has written another excellent book about that troubled land and desperate people. It's not quite as compelling as "The Lemon Tree ..." perhaps because it so exhaustively researched that it suffers from too much detail. But this is a small quibble in comparison with what you will learn and come to appreciate from reading this book about one man's struggle Sandy Tolan, author my all-time favorite book about the Middle East, "The Lemon Tree, A Jew, A Palestinian, and the Heart of the Middle East," has written another excellent book about that troubled land and desperate people. It's not quite as compelling as "The Lemon Tree ..." perhaps because it so exhaustively researched that it suffers from too much detail. But this is a small quibble in comparison with what you will learn and come to appreciate from reading this book about one man's struggle to make a difference. Actually, more than one man - it's heart warming how many people, many of them famous, helped him. It's a true story. All the characters in the book exist. Ramzi grew up in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Ramallah, West Bank. This is the story of how Ramzi, a young boy of eight, joined the 1st Intifada by throwing stones at Israeli tanks and soldiers in protest against Israeli occupation of the West Bank (and Gaza). It just happened that a foreign journalist snapped a picture of the eight-year old with a stone in his hand ready to hurl it. It became a poster and Ramzi became famous. Ramzi, as with every child in the refugee camps and the children before him, heard stories from his grandparents of the village they once lived in, the house they once owned, the olive and fruit trees they once harvested and now no longer owned or had access to. They were dispossessed, living in refugee camps dreaming continually for the right to return to their former homes. With each telling, the village got bigger, their home grander, and their orchards more fruitful. Their stories could well be entitled, "Dreams from My Father." Ramzi might have gone from throwing stones to throwing bombs or he might have ended up in prison or six feet under. Many of his acquaintances did. Ramzi, however, discovered music, particularly the viola. Through the viola he found a way to express himself, to channel his emotions, and to give him purpose. At first his playing was crude but he landed a scholarship to study at a music conservatory in Angers, France. All in all, he spent seven years there - off and on - finally graduating and earning the title of master musician. He also spent time at a musicians camp for young students in New England. The school in France and the summer camp in the U.S. were made up of students from many countries and cultures. He met famed Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and noted scholar Edward Said, who were eager to try to build understanding through music. Ramzi became part of their effort for some time and a member of their touring multi-cultural orchestra, the Divan. His main goal, however, was to give other Palestinian children the chance to find joy and an outlet through music as he had. He decided to begin a music school in a refugee camp. He was still a youth himself but he was charming, charismatic, persistent, and fiercely dedicated to his cause. He was able to enlist musicians from all over the world to help. A violinist from the London Symphony Orchestra came to help, an accomplished opera singer came to give voice lessons, Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said helped, as did many others. Nonetheless it was a daunting task with many set backs. But his music school survived. But Tolan does not portray Ramzi as a golden boy. He could be difficult and demanding. He could be uncompromising. He often quarreled with his fellow musicians and benefactors who wanted music to make its own statement, to transcend politics. Wasn't it enough for people to see Palestinian and Israeli orchestra members playing together in harmony? For Ramzi, no. He wanted public statements of support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and other like efforts to be issued by the orchestra. Can or should music or other like efforts be de-politicized is an important question raised in the book. Woven in to Ramzi's story, and an integral part of it, is the story of the refugee camps, the separation wall, the fruitless American peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians and, perhaps most of all, the hardships and frustrations of daily life in the West Bank. And on a more inspiring note there is the dedication of the children who are determined to learn to play their chosen instrument and to bring music to other refugee camps. There are many successes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan is a child of the occupation, born and raised in Al Amari refugee camp near Ramallah in the West Bank. "Children of the Stone" chronicles Ramzi's journey from stone thrower to music student to school founder, and "shows how, through his love of music, he created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war." In the Introduction, Tolan writes: "in 'Children of the Stone' I hope to show what it's like for ordinary Palestinians to live under a military o Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan is a child of the occupation, born and raised in Al Amari refugee camp near Ramallah in the West Bank. "Children of the Stone" chronicles Ramzi's journey from stone thrower to music student to school founder, and "shows how, through his love of music, he created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war." In the Introduction, Tolan writes: "in 'Children of the Stone' I hope to show what it's like for ordinary Palestinians to live under a military occupation. Despite the boatloads of ink and forests of newsprint devoted to the 'Israeli-Palestinian conflict,' precious little has examined day-to-day life under its most enduringly corrosive aspect: Israel's forty-seven-year occupation of the West Bank. To explore this I have focused not on 'both sides' of the conflict as I did with my 2006 book, 'The Lemon Tree,' but rather on the West Bank, on the 'other' side of Israel's separation barrier, through the drama, grace, joy, and hardship of a group of children engaged in learning music." I read "Children of the Stone" with particular interest; my daughter returned this summer from a two-year stint with a faith-based NGO working in support of non-violent resistance, advocacy, relief, and development inside the West Bank. Sixteen months ago we had the opportunity to visit her in her "context" there: we stayed in a Lutheran-run guest house near the Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives; worshiped in the Redeemer Lutheran Church in the Old City, just steps from the Church of the Holy Sepulchure; walked the streets of Hebron, where our tour guide was prohibited from entering certain areas of the city; and visited the Friends Schools in Ramallah. We experienced first-hand the checkpoints, differences in infrastructure, and the 8-meter separation wall Tolan describes. As in "The Lemon Tree," Tolan writes factually and with restrained editorializing. The narrative moves seamlessly between the story of Ramzi's life and the events that shaped it; he simply "tells it like it is" and allows the reader to respond and react and ponder. Extensive notes corroborate details and provide further details. And it's up-to-date. The final chapter accurately describes Israel's 2014 assault on Gaza and the events that led to it. And here Tolan seems to find his editorial voice: "With a 'two-state solution' nearly extinguished--in large part because of the United States' inability or unwillingness to stop Israel's settlement expansion--the conversation began to change. Palestinians themselves, in the Holy Land and the diaspora, debated whether a single or binational state could ever be implemented ... Increasingly, the word 'apartheid' was spoken ... The fact on the ground told the story of a single state controlled by Israel. Now the struggle focused on civil rights and international recognition. In the meantime, Palestinians argued for 'sumud,' or steadfastness on the land. 'Existence,' said the popular Palestinian slogan, 'is resistance.'" I found "Children of the Stone" a discouraging--but important--read, knowing that the "end of the story" has yet to be written and that the book would not have a particularly satisfying conclusion. Still, the hope and dignity Ramzi and his students found and continue to find through musical expression do offer a measure of beauty and joy. "The music they absorbed was their protection... they would use that music as a shield and sword, toward the freedom of their people."

  9. 5 out of 5

    John

    This well-reported book tells the story of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a Palestinian who threw stones at Israeli soldiers when he was a child, was introduced to music as a youth, studied music in France for seven years and returned home to start a music school. Ramzi continued to throw verbal stones, however. As I read this, I admired Ramzi but sometimes wondered if he could have accomplished more by being a little more conciliatory. But I haven't lived his life, and I'm in no position to judge. Alth This well-reported book tells the story of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a Palestinian who threw stones at Israeli soldiers when he was a child, was introduced to music as a youth, studied music in France for seven years and returned home to start a music school. Ramzi continued to throw verbal stones, however. As I read this, I admired Ramzi but sometimes wondered if he could have accomplished more by being a little more conciliatory. But I haven't lived his life, and I'm in no position to judge. Although Mr. Tolan certainly doesn't ignore Palestinian misdeeds, it seems to me that "Children of the Stone" is written from a pro-Palestinian perspective. It challenged my thinking on Israel-Palestine relations. Daniel Barenboim and the East-West Divan Orchestra also play a role in the book. How much power does music have in such an intractable situation? Well, some, at least. An excerpt (the musical reference is Gustav Mahler's First Symphony, third movement): Thus, on a sunny June afternoon in Palestine, the sounds of a French folk song, converted to a funeral dirge in Budapest by a Jewish composer from Bohemia, came to life in the two-hundred-year-old courtyard of an Ottoman sheikh, performed by Palestinian children, themselves surrounded by Israeli tanks and settlements just beyond the palace walls.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Reem Anani

    I thought it was a remarkable book, its right on, and i can relate. i totally recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Martha Fiorentini

    Having previously read Jimmy Carter's Peace not Apartheid, I was aware of the Palestinian plight. I thought that this story was well told. Trying to achieve peace through music is a noble goal.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Eye-opening and inspirational account of a Palestinian refugee whose life and dreams are transformed by music. Incredible true story!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Makiko Hirata

    What can I do for the world, and its problems and sufferings, as a classical musician? I've been reading many books in my quest. I just finished "Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land" by Sandy Tolan (https://www.amazon.com/Children-Stone...). It is a nonfiction about a Palestinian violist, Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, and his mission to assert the Palestinian presence to the world with his music. Ramzi's photo as an eight-year-old throwing stones at an Israeli tank captured intern What can I do for the world, and its problems and sufferings, as a classical musician? I've been reading many books in my quest. I just finished "Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land" by Sandy Tolan (https://www.amazon.com/Children-Stone...). It is a nonfiction about a Palestinian violist, Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, and his mission to assert the Palestinian presence to the world with his music. Ramzi's photo as an eight-year-old throwing stones at an Israeli tank captured international attention. Later, he gets an opportunity to learn to play the viola. Although he also plays the buzuq and has a band of traditional Arabic music, his emphasis, as well as the book's, is more on him as a violist and the founder of al Kamandjâti ("the violinist") Association, which aims to bring classical music to impoverished Palestinian children, including those in the refugee camps. The reason behind the emphasis on classical music over the traditional Arabic music, is explained in various ways through the book, often in Ramzi's own words. In a chapter entitled "Harmony," the polyphony in Western classical music (unlike the homophonic Arabic music), and how it requires the players to listen to and understand each other, is used as a metaphor for Ramzi's revelation to a new perspective, musical and otherwise. (P. 63) In the next chapter, Ramzi is quoted in his thoughts: "It would be unfair if I were enjoying this alone..As we say in Arabic, Paradise would mean nothing without people." (P. 81-2) He is saying this as he resolves to bring classical music back to his home country during his studies abroad, but taken out of context, now I realize, it can also be interpreted as an echo of the earlier sentiment about harmonious co-existence. In another chapter, he is quoted for promoting his idea for music schools in Palestine to international audiences: "I want to show these children that there is something else beside war and occupation." (P. 120) But the quote that struck me the most was him as an eighteen-year-old, when it had only been a year since he picked up the viola: "I want people to see that we Palestinians are capable. We are like everybody else in the world. We can do a lot. I hope one day I'l be a teacher and a professional viola player. I hope we'll have a big orchestra and we'll tour the world in the name of Palestine. I want to show the world that we are here, on the map." (xxii) How many other non-Europeans, and other oppressed groups of musicians, like the female pianists, have said this throughout history? Is this not what the Japanese said after World War II? Is Western classical music "the" universal language? Is it a status symbol, or a touchstone of humanity? By chronologically following Ramzi's pursuit, readers get to learn about other musical organizations' similar responses to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music's "Playing for Peace" Society brings chamber music workshops to areas of the world with history of conflict, where they assign musicians to "play in small ensembles alongside musicians from conflicting communities." (http://applehill.org/playing-for-peac...). Apple Hill introduced the viola, classical music, and the idea of its use for peaceful activism, to Ramzi. West-East Divan Orchestra, co-founded by Israeli Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian Edward Said, is an orchestra of Arabian and Israeli musicians. Although its media portrayal has largely been idealistic, this book focuses on Ramzi's frustration with its leaders for not taking a stronger stands for Palestine. The book ends on a happy note, with "a musical intifada" of Ramzi's youth orchestra playing Mozart's Symphony and Bizet's Carmen at the military checkpoint at Qalandia. The players feel as though they are introducing joy to what has been a joyless place. The soldiers start to seem more human to the players - a few claim to have seen two soldiers dancing. They receive an enthusiastic applause. The conductor is asked by a reporter if the music can make a solution for peace between the nations, to which he answers "I don't know if it can bring a solution but I think it can bring a lot of good things to people. It brings really great things to these kids here. And to be a part of that, I can't ask for anything more, really. It's amazing. To play here today - I feel so good." Ramzi feels convinced that the "music they absorbed was their protection...they would use that music as shield and sword, toward the freedom of their people." (P. 310-3) I hate to find myself feeling cynical even after the book's "happy" ending. I wish I could wholeheartedly promote classical music as a remedy to all of the world's conflicts and issues. When I am battling my own struggles with its history of imperialism and misogyny, what can I still do, and make use of my skill set and experience, to serve?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    As someone who lived in Palestine for 9 months and taught music at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, I really enjoyed this book. I even personally know some of the people featured in it :) I think it's a wonderful and inspiring account of a young boy with big dreams, using music to help in the face of a horrible situation. There is also a lot of historical information about the history of Palestine and Israel. There are extensive footnotes for additional information and resources. A As someone who lived in Palestine for 9 months and taught music at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, I really enjoyed this book. I even personally know some of the people featured in it :) I think it's a wonderful and inspiring account of a young boy with big dreams, using music to help in the face of a horrible situation. There is also a lot of historical information about the history of Palestine and Israel. There are extensive footnotes for additional information and resources. At times the book gets a bit long-winded as we hear about account after account of Ramzi traveling and touring and raising funds. It's at times more of a chronological narrative than anything. But it sets up a very strong scene as to all the dynamics involved in Ramzi's project, and what it takes to build an organization like he did entirely from scratch. "It was impossible to measure the exact degree of emotional damage the youth of Ramzi's generation had suffered. Countless international studies examined the victimization of Palestine's children, especially in the refugee camps, citing increased sleep loss, disobedience, unruliness, fear of leaving the house, and other effects of the recurring trauma. But, perhaps unexpectedly, researchers also found a reduction of some pathological symptoms, concluding that the children and youth of the intifada felt empowered by their own courage and leadership. Ramzi saw himself less as a victim of trauma than as a brave boy who had stood up to an occupying army and helped pave the way for his people's independence. He regarded himself as an agent of his own destiny, a young man who was learning to convert his trauma into positive energy in the service of his people. ... studies on music and trauma from other conflict zones, including Bosnia, South Africa, and Northern Ireland found that music reduced the recurrence of traumatic memories, raised the threshold for anxiety, and perhaps more important, created the possibility to "reimagine" one's own life. Playing music - the researchers found - making something new in response to the trauma - not only was a way to move beyond victimhood; it was a path to healing, and eventually to a complete personal transformation." p.67 "Edward spoke of Goethe's Fause and the evil that is in everyone...The kind of energy that goes into producing a driven symphony like the Seventh Symphony can also produce the kind of energy that goes into genocide and ethnic cleansing, and systematic cruelty of the kind that produces a Faust, whose pact with the devil gives him a certain kind of fantastic power...employed in the service of the sublime or the horrific...Whether it is war, whether it is injustice, ethnic cleansing, apartheid: All of those things have to be understood as coming from ... the human heart, if you allow a romantic expression for it." p. 108 "This instrument describes all my emotions. And when I play viola, especially when I'm sad, the viola heals me." p. 198 "The very act of reaching for a violin and starting to play is itself an act of dignity, an attempt to resist, to stand up to the challenges of being free." p. 203

  15. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    I'm just mesmerized by the success Ramzi has had and feel heart broken that Palestine is not the reality it should be. After reading this second book by Tolan, I can see that the Israeli government is not at all innocent of war crimes and blatant mistreatment of refugees. Yes, many Israelis have a deep-seeded fear that the Other wants them annihilated - how can they not after the holocaust and other atrocities. Yet they are letting this fear guide them in treating the Palestinians in a way that I'm just mesmerized by the success Ramzi has had and feel heart broken that Palestine is not the reality it should be. After reading this second book by Tolan, I can see that the Israeli government is not at all innocent of war crimes and blatant mistreatment of refugees. Yes, many Israelis have a deep-seeded fear that the Other wants them annihilated - how can they not after the holocaust and other atrocities. Yet they are letting this fear guide them in treating the Palestinians in a way that is ungodly. Ramzi experienced the peace and freedom that music allowed him to feel as a refugee in an occupied land. So he set about doing fundraising, finding locations, teachers, instruments etc, to give the next generation of refugee children an opportunity to have the same experience with music. With music, they can peacefully take over spaces, literally and figuratively, that have been denied them for too many years.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    Young Palestinian Ramzi threw stones at the occupying Israeli soldiers in his refuge camp. For the rest of his life, as he deals with the continuing upheaval of discrimination, segregation, and loss, he is finding life and purpose in music, bringing it to the suffering children in the war zones of Palestine, and gathering musicians from around the world to perform together in their common language. If you are convinced of the sovereignty of Israel, this story will offend you. If you believe in fr Young Palestinian Ramzi threw stones at the occupying Israeli soldiers in his refuge camp. For the rest of his life, as he deals with the continuing upheaval of discrimination, segregation, and loss, he is finding life and purpose in music, bringing it to the suffering children in the war zones of Palestine, and gathering musicians from around the world to perform together in their common language. If you are convinced of the sovereignty of Israel, this story will offend you. If you believe in freedom for all humankind, you may be angry, grieved, and heartbroken, inspired and encouraged. Regardless of your opinion of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, this true story based on facts and interviews, is a testimony to the power of music in a broken land. “As she played (her violin) at Qalandia, she began to feel brave and happy: ‘I am in front of the soldiers. They see me and can do nothing about it. They can’t shoot me. I have music. That’s my weapon.’”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Noor Saadeh

    My heart gets heavier and heavier reading ever more books on Palestine. Yet I read more. More atrocities and more questions as to why we continue to support what is happening there. The biggest question is why those who suffered unheard of atrocities can turn around and inflict the same on others - innocent others. Muslims who have historically been the only people to not only shelter their Jewish brethren but actually invite those who were persecuted elsewhere - in. An amazing story. I heard the My heart gets heavier and heavier reading ever more books on Palestine. Yet I read more. More atrocities and more questions as to why we continue to support what is happening there. The biggest question is why those who suffered unheard of atrocities can turn around and inflict the same on others - innocent others. Muslims who have historically been the only people to not only shelter their Jewish brethren but actually invite those who were persecuted elsewhere - in. An amazing story. I heard the protagonist Ramzi and his band play a benefit concert for his refugee camp music schools here in Dallas this past winter. Author Sandy Tolan also was on stage to tell us about his book and time spent with these incredible people. Ramzi, even from afar, shone with a brilliant light. May God protect him. What drew the author in was while visiting Palestine he glimpsed a poster with the iconic image of a young boy, about to throw a rock juxtaposed with the same boy at age 18, poised with a violin in his hand. He knew there was a story there that needed telling. If that idea grabs you, the book is long and heart wrenching but a large section at the back lists all the author's meticulous references to events and recorded sayings of the characters. As he explains, it is not a book of fiction. If you plan a trip to Israel, please just once visit the Occupied Territories and go through a check point. You must experience it. It will change your world view.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Constance Chevalier

    A humongous task to get through it but well worth it. The story includes the history behind the grandfather Sido of the young boy Ramzi in Palestine and how he learned to play the viola, work with Daniel Barenboim, Edward Said and Yo-Yo Ma to create the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and bring music, instraments, and musicians to Gaza and the West Bank; bring talented Palestinian youth to France and Italy on scholarship; create the music school Al Kamandjati all the while dealing with the injustic A humongous task to get through it but well worth it. The story includes the history behind the grandfather Sido of the young boy Ramzi in Palestine and how he learned to play the viola, work with Daniel Barenboim, Edward Said and Yo-Yo Ma to create the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and bring music, instraments, and musicians to Gaza and the West Bank; bring talented Palestinian youth to France and Italy on scholarship; create the music school Al Kamandjati all the while dealing with the injustices of living under occupation, traveling through checkpoints and armed guards, war and growing up.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    This is a dual story. It's about a man with a dream. He wants to bring music, classical music, to an underrepresented area, Palestine. But he also wants to make the world aware of what's happening there. Sad. Beautiful. Many emotions.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beverly Atkinson

    Please, everyone, read this amazing non-fiction book by Sandy Tolan, author of “The Lemon Tree” and other works. I laughed and cried and cried and laughed again and again.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Excellent on providing info about struggle This book opened my eyes and made me grateful for the freedom of speech and religion in my country. Everyone should read!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    When I was eight years old my grandmother bought me a piano and mom enrolled me in piano lessons. I used to think that if anyone where to break into the house with hostile intent, some monster from the movies, all I needed to do was sit and play music and it would calm and subdue the monster. Perhaps this is not true literally, but today research is showing that music education has therapeutic value, relieving stress, releasing emotions, improving mood and resolving conflicts. I knew that as a t When I was eight years old my grandmother bought me a piano and mom enrolled me in piano lessons. I used to think that if anyone where to break into the house with hostile intent, some monster from the movies, all I needed to do was sit and play music and it would calm and subdue the monster. Perhaps this is not true literally, but today research is showing that music education has therapeutic value, relieving stress, releasing emotions, improving mood and resolving conflicts. I knew that as a teen when playing classical music gave order and discipline and romantic music allowed expression and release. Instrumental music further, like the choral singing I participated in since Third Grade, has an added benefit of being part of a team, achieving something beautiful together. Add the benefits of discipline and the neuron growth of the brain, music education today is known to be as important as other knowledge skills. Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land by Sandy Tolan is a narrative account of Ramzi Aburedwan, a Palestinian boy of the Ramallah refugee camp. At eight years old Ramzi was photographed with stones in his hands, participating in the first Intifada when Palestinian boys began throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers occupying their country. Ramzi discovered music and the viola. Music gave him a voice and a new way of protesting his political reality. He won a scholarship to study in France for three years. He started a traveling musical group. He returned to Ramallah to found a music school for children among his own people. Ramzi joined the East West Divan orchestra organized by Argentinian-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian American academic Edward Said. It is composed of 40 Israelis, 40 Palestinians and 20 Spaniards as an example of peaceful coexistence. The Divan orchestra elected to be apolitical and eventually Ramzi left the orchestra believing their ideals were false to reality. Music is wielded by Ramzi as a sword--first to slay the oppression and depression felt by the refugee camp children. Tolan relates the stories of the kids whose lives are transformed by their instruments. Prodigies are discovered in the rubble. Music offers them a respite, a slice of beauty, a feeling of control and self esteem. Ramzi's story is told against the shifting political landscape of his time. It is a hard story to read. The centuries of persecution faced by Jews across the world is not to be discounted, but the apartheid and persecution the Palestinians have suffered under Israel is atrocious. Tolan does not idealize Ramzi. He has a remarkable and relentless drive to achieve. He is also a wounded man, a private man, an idealist whose high expectations can be hard for his students. The book was five years in the writing, drawing on interviews and accounts. Tolan's journalistic approach does not mean the reader avoids feeling drawn to side with the Palestinians. Merely offering facts and numbers of those killed, hurt, or imprisoned bring an awareness that those who have suffered most are the women and children of Palestine, and the refugees of sixty years. The story is open ended. Ramzi carries on his mission and Israeli-Palestinian relations have reached no peaceful accord. Sometimes all we can do is change the world one person at a time. And that is whay Ramzi has been doing. I received a free ebook through NetGalley for a fair and unbiased review. Children of the Stone by Sandy Tolan Bloomsbury USA Publication April 21, 2015 $28.00 hardcover ISBN:9781608198139

  23. 4 out of 5

    D Dina Friedman

    This was fascinating and important to read--even if emotionally hard to stomach at times.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    In the years since I first read Sandy Tolan's earlier book, "The Lemon Tree," I have recommended it to many people. In"The Lemon Tree," Tolan tells the stories of a Palestinian family and a Jewish Bulgarian family who survived the Holocaust, and the reader gets to hear both perspectives in a balanced way, which is why it's such a good resource for people who are beginning to learn about the Israel-Palestine conflict. In "Children of the Stone" Tolan focuses on Ramzi,who grew up in a refugee camp In the years since I first read Sandy Tolan's earlier book, "The Lemon Tree," I have recommended it to many people. In"The Lemon Tree," Tolan tells the stories of a Palestinian family and a Jewish Bulgarian family who survived the Holocaust, and the reader gets to hear both perspectives in a balanced way, which is why it's such a good resource for people who are beginning to learn about the Israel-Palestine conflict. In "Children of the Stone" Tolan focuses on Ramzi,who grew up in a refugee camp near Ramallah. His face became famous when it was captured in 1988 in a photo as he threw a stone during the Intifada. The trauma and loss Ramzi and other children of the stone, who have lived under occupation and warfare, are heartbreaking and almost unimaginable. At age 17, Ramzi is given a viola and begins his music education, including opportunities to study in France and the U.S. He begins to dream of a musical education for children of the refugee camps, and then he works to successfully fulfill that dream. This is Ramzi's way of resisting the occupation. The music gives voice to the young peoples' emotions and provides an alternative form of resistance. As Ramzi says, "The viola heals me." As one of the students says, "The violin is my weapon." This is a challenging and troubling read, because the reader experiences the everyday humiliations and dangers and deprivations of the occupation with the children of the stone. Yet this is also a story of transformation and hope.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jonelle

    This book was wonderful! Tolan is an excellent and knowledgeable writer about Palestine and its troubled relationship with Israel. (His book, The Lemon Tree, is also one of my favorites.) Here, he combines his empathy and expertise about the desperate situation Palestinians find themselves in, with a surprising topic, the power of music to change lives. He follows one ofthe children of a Palestinian refugee camp, Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, as he first is photographed by an AP photographer as an ei This book was wonderful! Tolan is an excellent and knowledgeable writer about Palestine and its troubled relationship with Israel. (His book, The Lemon Tree, is also one of my favorites.) Here, he combines his empathy and expertise about the desperate situation Palestinians find themselves in, with a surprising topic, the power of music to change lives. He follows one ofthe children of a Palestinian refugee camp, Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, as he first is photographed by an AP photographer as an eight-year-old throwing a stone at an unseen Israeli soldier. Ramzi grows up, and unlike most refugee camp children, he is exposed to classical music and learns to play the viola. After studying in America and France, he returns to Palestine to establish Al Kamandjati, a Palestinian music school where he exposes even more children to the power of music, not weapons. This is a really worthwhile book, about a surprising way to approach the problem of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A sad, honest, hopeful and necessary book. The story of Razmi, the young violist who founded a music school for refugee children in Ramallah, is astonishing. Tolan also deals well (and, for the most part, accurately) with the political background. If this is, in some ways, a softer book than the outstanding "Goliath", it still leaves you wondering why innocent children should have to suffer this way. Thank heavens for music, and caring adults! They are not enough; what these children need is equ A sad, honest, hopeful and necessary book. The story of Razmi, the young violist who founded a music school for refugee children in Ramallah, is astonishing. Tolan also deals well (and, for the most part, accurately) with the political background. If this is, in some ways, a softer book than the outstanding "Goliath", it still leaves you wondering why innocent children should have to suffer this way. Thank heavens for music, and caring adults! They are not enough; what these children need is equal rights and the freedom to pursue their talents. But they are a very good start. Like their teacher, the children achieve remarkable things in almost impossible circumstances. All music lovers, and everyone who is interested in current events, should read this book. It may open eyes, and hearts.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    The story of Ramzi, a Palestinian boy who discovered music through a teacher, was offered an opportunity to study viola, and ended up creating a music conservatory for children in the Palestinian territories. The story weaves the recent history of Palestinians from the creation of Israel through the present with Ramzi's personal story of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, getting opportunities to study music outside his home area while still being passionate about an independent country for his The story of Ramzi, a Palestinian boy who discovered music through a teacher, was offered an opportunity to study viola, and ended up creating a music conservatory for children in the Palestinian territories. The story weaves the recent history of Palestinians from the creation of Israel through the present with Ramzi's personal story of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, getting opportunities to study music outside his home area while still being passionate about an independent country for his people, and creating his dream of a music school for refugee/displaced Palestinian children and teens. Expect politics, mostly from the Palestinian perspective; pain; daily life with family, friendship, and love; and the making of beautiful music.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I was afraid at first that this book would be too sad to read, because the world of the Palestinians is so bleak in so many ways - but it was enthralling. Tolan is evenhanded and fair as he discusses the differences in approach between the founder of Al Kamandjati and Daniel Barenboim's east-west orchestra, and his terse way of juxtaposing what happens to the Palestinians with the remarks made by US and Israeli politicians is devastating. I looked at AK's website and it's about a year out of dat I was afraid at first that this book would be too sad to read, because the world of the Palestinians is so bleak in so many ways - but it was enthralling. Tolan is evenhanded and fair as he discusses the differences in approach between the founder of Al Kamandjati and Daniel Barenboim's east-west orchestra, and his terse way of juxtaposing what happens to the Palestinians with the remarks made by US and Israeli politicians is devastating. I looked at AK's website and it's about a year out of date so I can only hope everyone is still safe and making music. Wish I still had that second violin I sold off a couple of years ago so I could donate it... Guess what, if people have been living in a place for 50 years IT ISN'T A REFUGEE CAMP anymore, and if they can't leave IT'S A PRISON.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Halldór Thorgeirsson

    This book is about the power of music and the impact it can have on children and youth living in the most difficult circumstances in Palestine. It is up close and personal in particular about the emotions, aspirations and achievements of the Ramzi Aburedwan, which as a child is exposed to classical music, gets good training in France and returns to the West Bank to start a music school. It was also interesting to get more insight into the backstory behind the East-West Divan orchestra and Edward This book is about the power of music and the impact it can have on children and youth living in the most difficult circumstances in Palestine. It is up close and personal in particular about the emotions, aspirations and achievements of the Ramzi Aburedwan, which as a child is exposed to classical music, gets good training in France and returns to the West Bank to start a music school. It was also interesting to get more insight into the backstory behind the East-West Divan orchestra and Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim. The book also gives good insights into the how the conflict evolved from a Palestinian perspective. A very good book about the power of the human spirit.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    This was phenomenal. I read Tolan's other book The Lemon Tree and loved its balanced and moving portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This book was less balanced though the author admits that from the beginning but it was equally if not more moving and empowering. The full Palestinian side of the story is something that often does not get told as much as I think it should. This story, chronicling the power of music in transforming a population that otherwise live amid destruction, war, and vio This was phenomenal. I read Tolan's other book The Lemon Tree and loved its balanced and moving portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This book was less balanced though the author admits that from the beginning but it was equally if not more moving and empowering. The full Palestinian side of the story is something that often does not get told as much as I think it should. This story, chronicling the power of music in transforming a population that otherwise live amid destruction, war, and violence was truly astounding. Highly highly recommend.

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