English edition  
June  2016
352 pp.
b/w picture section 
15X23 cm
ISBN 9789774167300
For sale worldwide


also available in

Mapping My Return

A Palestinian Memoir Salman Abu Sitta

The only memoir in English by a Palestinian Arab who grew up in the Beersheba district prior to 1948

Salman Abu Sitta, who has single-handedly made available crucial mapping work on Palestine, was just ten years old when he left his home near Beersheba in 1948, but as for many Palestinians of his generation, the profound effects of that traumatic loss would form the defining feature of his life from that moment on. In this rich and moving memoir, Abu Sitta draws on oral histories and personal recollections to vividly evoke the vanished world of his family and home from the late nineteenth century to the eve of the British withdrawal from Palestine and subsequent war. Alongside accounts of an idyllic childhood spent on his family’s farm estate Abu Sitta gives a personal and very human face to the dramatic events of 1930s and 1940s Palestine, conveying the acute sense of foreboding felt by Palestinians as Zionist ambitions and militarization expanded under the mandate. Following his family’s flight to Gaza during the 1948 mass exodus of Palestinians from their homes, Abu Sitta continued his schooling and university education in Cairo, where he witnessed the heady rise of Arab nationalism after the overthrow of King Farouk in 1952 and the momentous events surrounding the Israeli invasion of Sinai and Gaza in 1956. With warmth and humor, he chronicles his peripatetic exile’s existence, as an engineering student in Nasser’s Egypt, his crucial, formative years in 1960s London, his life as a family man and academic in Canada, and several sojourns in Kuwait, all against the backdrop of seismic political events in the region, including the 1967 and 1973 Arab–Israeli wars, the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the 1991 Gulf War. Abu Sitta’s narrative is imbued throughout with a burning sense of justice, a determination to recover and document what rightfully belongs to his people, an aim given poignant expression in his painstaking cartographic and archival work on Palestine, for which he is justifiably acclaimed.

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Salman Abu Sitta was born in 1937 in Ma‘in Abu Sitta, in the Beersheba district of mandate Palestine. An engineer by profession, he is best known for his cartographic work on Palestine and his work on the Palestinian Right of Return. He is the author of six books and over 300 articles and papers on Palestine, including The Atlas of Palestine, 1917–1966 (2010). He is the founder and president of the Palestine Land Society.

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"Abu Sitta is a leading expert on the 'nakbah' and what is nowadays widely described as the "ethnic cleansing" it involved. He is also a passionate advocate of the "right of return", under which Palestinian refugees must be allowed to go back to their lost lands and property."—The Guardian

"An extraordinary engineer and scholar."—Edward Said

"This manuscript is a valuable and unique addition to the genre of Palestinian autobiographies in English."—Dr. Rochelle Davis, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University

"In a life lived intensely, with unflagging curiosity and vocal outrage at the injustices that have beleaguered his people, Salman Abu Sitta is to be celebrated for his tenacity, intelligence and ability not to lose heart despite all the odds. This accessible and informative book describes all that he has lived through as a Palestinian, both on his own land and as a refugee. It also presents very clearly the fundamental need for the ‘right of return’ to be enshrined in any just and lasting peace in the region."—Selma Dabbagh

“There is much debate about the origins of the quotation that Palestine was a land without people for a people without a land, but no doubt at all that it was Golda Meir who said that ‘there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.’ Palestinians remaining there and the diaspora scattered worldwide, have totally disproved these statements in the hundreds of books and histories and mapping that have been published since the Nakba. Many are feats of great scholarship. Salman Abu Sitta has the broadest experience and longest tale to tell of any Palestinian I have ever met and this comprehensive history and geography of the land and its people should be on everyone's bookshelf. Everyone that is, who seeks to understand fully the greatest injustice of the 20th Century and how it affected the Palestinian people who still have not given up the hope of return to their homes in Palestine. Nor should they.”––Baroness Jenny Tonge

“Salman Abu Sitta writes about a personal experience, but he also tells the story of a people and a nation. A highly recommended work from a well-known scholar that will appeal to anyone seeking to understand this story.”—Dina Matar, author of What It Means to be Palestinian

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