Gregory Levey has an antidote to our nonstop cajoling, decrying, and arguing. He’d like us to read his affable memoir, How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment, in which he methodically examines a multiplicity of attitudes, to keen effect. “Don’t be a Fundamentalist,” he counsels in his Author’s Note. But he discovers that such advice is easier given than put into actual practice.
As a former employee of the Israeli government, an experience he chronicled in the funny, warmly regarded memoir “Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government,” and as a graduate of a Zionist Jewish elementary school, this 30-something author has spent a long time thinking about the Middle East. Admittedly consumed yet utterly exhausted, he decides to find a solution, so that not only will he fully understand what’s at stake, he’ll never have to talk about it again.
First, Levey orders special “PeaceMaker” underwear off the Internet. On a serious note, he also sets out to speak with as many people with as many points of view as possible, “from the biggest players in the Middle East debate to the cranks who kept bombarding my email in-box.” Each interview generally follows a pattern: Levey explains his project, acknowledges its inherent preposterousness, recommends that the person read or, at the very least, buy his first book, and then asks for his or her thoughts.