cover image The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel

The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel

Martin van Creveld, St. Martin's, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-312-59678-1

It's no mean feat to sketch the late 19th century rise of Zionism and creation of Israel with economy and compassion, and to deliver an honest appraisal of the country's strengths and weaknesses. That celebrated historian van Creveld (The Culture of War) manages just this, and does so with an easy accessibility, is to be admired. But he inexplicably fails to address Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands until he reaches the 21st century, hardly even mentioning Palestinian opposition until more than half the book is past. Nothing Israel has done in the last 43 years can be understood without considering the money and manpower invested in controlling one and a half million people, to say nothing of its international relations (and wars). To write that "by the 1980s, to be a left-winger meant opposing settlement" or that "one country after another cut its diplomatic ties with Jerusalem [during the 1970s]" without considering why is to overlook the single greatest factor affecting four decades of Israeli history, an enormous misstep in an otherwise first-rate study. (Aug.)