Watzman, Haim 1956–

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Watzman, Haim 1956–

PERSONAL: Born 1956, in Cleveland, OH; married; children: four. Education: Duke University, B.A.

ADDRESSES: Home—Jerusalem, Israel. Agent—Writers House, LLC, attn: Simon Lipskar, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Author, editor, translator, and journalist, 1978–. Israel correspondent for Chronicle of Higher Education and for British science journal Nature.

MEMBER: Kehilat Yedidya.


(Translator) Tamar El-Or, Next Year I Will Know More: Literacy and Identity among Young Orthodox Women in Israel (interviews), Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 2002.

(Translator) Yaacov Lozowick, Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil (history), Continuum (New York, NY), 2002.

(Translator) Igal Sarna, The Man Who Fell into a Puddle: Israeli Lives (biographies), Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2002.

(Translator) David Grossman, Death as a Way of Life: Israel Ten Years after Oslo (sociology), edited by Efrat Lev, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2003.

(Translator) Igal Sarna, Broken Promises: Israeli Lives (biographies), Atlantic Books (London, England), 2003.

Company C: An American's Life as a Citizen-Soldier in Israel (autobiography), Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.

Also translator of other books from Hebrew, including The Seventh Million, Elvis in Jerusalem, and One Palestine Complete, all by Tom Segev, and The Yellow Wind and Sleeping on a Wire, both by David Grossman.

SIDELIGHTS: American-born Israeli journalist Haim Watzman has earned a strong reputation for his many translations into English of modern works originally composed in Hebrew. Most of these comment, to one degree or another, on the continuing violence of the Palestinian intifada and how that affects modern Israelis. In 1993, when the Oslo Accords were signed, people throughout the world believed that the generations-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was finally about to end. The decade since that time showed such hopes to be misguided. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Watzman's translation of David Grossman's collection of essays Death as a Way of Life: Israel Ten Years after Oslo "chillingly, sometimes agonizingly, eloquent on hope's fading light" for peace. Grossman's own divided feelings on the subject of peace, wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer, give his words "credibility, which, mixed with a heartfelt love of Israel and a courtly tone, lend the book an uncommon force."

The authors Watzsman translates also comment on the vagaries of life in modern Israel: the stresses caused by living in an immigrant society and the problems posed by the Holocaust, even now, more than half a century after the end of World War II. In Watzman's translation of journalist Igal Sarna's short biographies, titled The Man Who Fell into a Puddle: Israeli Lives, the author and translator show how Israelis—who, despite their common nationality, come from a wide variety of backgrounds—cope with the pains and traumas of everyday existence. Sarna tells the story of one immigrant, dazed and confused following an automobile accident and longing for his native Russia, wanders off into the desert, never to be seen again. He describes a boy raised in an Israeli orphanage who, following a long career as an Army officer, finds his birth mother living as a Muslim in Jordan. "Together," declared a Publishers Weekly contributor, "these deftly written, often piercing stories form a complicated, sometimes contradictory tableau of Israeli life."

Watzman comments on his own situation, an expatriate American living in Israel, in his memoir Company C: An American's Life as a Citizen-Soldier in Israel. As an observant Jew, Watzman struggled to understand the 1975 United Nations declaration equating Zionism—the goal of establishing a Jewish nation with its capital in Jerusalem—with racism. When he immigrated to Israel in the 1970s, he was drafted into the army and served on active duty for eighteen months. Over the next eighteen years, he spent at least one month a year in military service. His time in the army gave him a unique perspective on important world events, including the original intifada, the occupation of the West Bank, and the Camp David and Oslo accords, both of which were efforts to broker peace between the warring groups. "Watzman himself defies easy stereotyping," declared a Publishers Weekly critic, and the descriptions of the men and women he worked with over the years "is likewise unclichéd, affectionate but critical." The author's "bold … captivating accounts," wrote Ethan Pullman in Library Journal, compel reexamination of "the idea that fulfilling an obligation to one's country is absolute or that one's country must be immune to reform."



Watzman, Haim, Company C: An American's Life as a Citizen-Soldier in Israel, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.


Booklist, September 15, 2002, George Cohen, review of The Man Who Fell into a Puddle: Israeli Lives, p. 195; April 15, 2003, George Cohen, review of Death as a Way of Life: Israel Ten Years after Oslo, p. 1445.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1,2002, review of The Man Who Fell into a Puddle, p. 1288; March 15, 2003, review of Death as a Way of Life, p. 440; April 1, 2005, review of Company C, p. 410.

Library Journal, June 15, 2005, Ethan Pullman, review of Company C, p. 85.

Middle East Journal, summer, 2005, review of Company C, p. 514.

Publishers Weekly, September 16, 2002, review of The Man Who Fell into a Puddle, p. 56; April 14, 2003, review of Death as a Way of Life, p. 58; April 4, 2005, review of Company C, p. 49.


Haim Watzman Home Page, http://haimwatzman.com (October 10, 2005).

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