'Highly recommended . . . The title of the book reflects its focus: the international, political, religious, social, and diplomatic forces affecting the history of the Jews who identified with Zionism and later with the state of Israel.' Library Journal
'As Ireland's representative to United Nations discussions of Palestinian refugees, Conor Cruise O'Brien sat between Israel and Iraq . . . O'Brien now suggests that a solution to Middle East anguish may not even be possible. That so bleak a view is the basis for so enlightening a book can be attributed to the author's capabilities as a historian, journalist and political analyst, not to mention storyteller.' Time
'One is hard pressed to recall another [book] which deals in depth with this vast and prickly subject that is as bold or as readable.' Publishers Weekly
'It bears the mark of a restless, original, idiosyncratic mind.' Abba Eban, Los Angeles Times
'A fine work of scholarship whose analysis stands up well in the light of later events.' Oliver Kamm, from his preface to this edition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an extremely well written, authoritative and impressive book that traces the history of Zionism from it's very origins to the establishment of the State of Israel and to the time that the book was written in 1986. This secular work reveals the remarkable insight of a trained historian and a former diplomat/politician whose knowledge and experience pertaining to this subject radiates from the pages of this study. Rarely has a book so eloquently documented how the State of Israel has been subjected to a 'siege' ever since its founding day. Even the hostility of the UN towards the Jewish State is so vividly felt in the contents of this work. A book which begins with an autobiographical description of how the writer sat as the Irish delegate at the UN at a time when such delegates were positioned alphabetically... managing to find himself between the delegates of Israel and Iraq! The amount of detail in this book is breathtaking and will provide any reader with a deeper understanding of modern day Israel and the true history & underlying context of the Middle East conflict. A context which reveals that the Arab violence and hatred of the Jews was present long before the re-birth of Israel in 1948 and that this hatred of the Jews does not originate with the taking of the 'West Bank' (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza during the 1967 war. Indeed, the Palestinian issue is among many of the subjects investigated in this excellent book, which unfortunately was published shortly before the recent Palestinian intifadas began in 1987 & therefore is lacking in any reference to the current situation. However, the relevance and importance of this book cannot be understated. It's historical accuracy is amazingly sound and very readable. It contains an enormous amount of detail which will destroy the cases of many 'new historians'. The epilogue of this work evaluates the security of the Jewish state and declares that Israel is obliged, by the nature of it's predicament in the Middle East, to remain on it's guard and to be 'the judge of it's own security'. The book elaborating that those who would condemn Israel for adopting such an attitude or a 'siege mentality' should reflect that this attitude is very much the creation of the nations who attacked & destroyed the Jews of Europe only a few years before the re-birth of Israel and even then from the nation's inception onwards. The book finishes with the phrase that 'what is not in sight is an end to the siege'. A description which despite the passing of so many years, leaves the reader to ponder how much has really changed when the fundamental issues addressed in this work are referred to. An exceptional book.