Nathan Thrall

My research bookcases are organized thematically, and you can tell what I’m working on at the moment by which shelf has the most books stacked horizontally in the foreground. These books in the foreground rotate from month to month. In the photo above, several are books I’m using for a piece I’ve just finished. Others are galleys of books I’ve either recently reviewed or been asked to review. The themes of the shelves were once more interesting, but they began to overlap to such a degree that I decided several years ago to reorganize the books by country or region.

The twin shelves I’ve photographed are on one of my wife’s bookcases. She mostly reads fiction and has been kind enough to let me take up a few of her shelves with some of the books I read for pleasure. My three-year-old daughter prefers the books from my research bookcases. Since learning to crawl, she has been pulling books and reports from the bottommost shelves. Her current favorite is Machiavelli’s The Prince, which she pretends to read aloud. Occasionally, she asks me to read it to her, and I’ve been surprised at her ability to sit through as many as two pages at a time. Judging by her ability to manipulate her father, though, I don’t think she has much to learn from Machiavelli.


Nathan Thrall is an essayist, critic, and journalist living in Jerusalem. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, GQ, The London Review of Books, The New Republic, The New York Times, and The New York Review of Books, where he worked previously on the editorial staff. Since 2010 he has written about Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank for the International Crisis Group, where he is a Senior Analyst. A contributing editor at Tablet Magazine, he appears frequently in print and broadcast media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, the BBC, CNN, Democracy Now!, and NPR. He received a BA from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara and an MA from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University.

For further information and clips of Nathan’s work check out his website:

Twitter: @nathanthrall