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A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel Paperback – May 20, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0805211498 ISBN-10: 0805211497 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprint edition (May 20, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805211497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211498
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #624,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Historical writing of the most thoughtful and serious kind.”
Newsweek
 
“The best single volume for the general reader.”
The Economist
 
“Laqueur’s rigorous objectivity elevates [this book] light-years above its predecessors in the field.”
The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

WALTER LAQUEUR chairs the research council for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and he is the founding editor of the Journal of Contemporary History. The author of more than twenty-five works of European and Jewish history, he lives in Washington, D.C.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Smith on July 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I came upon this book I was searching for a definitive history of Zionism. I had read current histories on Israel and the Middle East, but I didn't have a deep understanding of where Zionism came from nor its philosophical impetus. I was looking for a book that would give me an unbiased account of where and why Zionism came to be, and in this one book I found it.

Mr. Laqueur gives a detailed and clinical look into this phenomenon from its inauspicious beginnings to its improbable statehood and the many twists and turns in between. How he was able to go through and gather so much information on a movement that was so spread out and splintered between many different ideologies and theories is beyond me. He has assembled a wealth of information and presented it fairly and evenly.

Zionism is a movement unprecedented in history and the affects of this movement are still being felt today. It seems that everyone has an opinion about Zionism, but it is important to have a deep understanding of where this movement came from before one can have an accurate picture of where it is now and why it has become what is. The more people understand about that past the more clearly they will see the present. This is an important book that needs to be read.
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Henry Oliner on August 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I do not know where else in history that we have a people disposed from a land for two thousand years, scattered all over the world, who reconvene through an international movement and regain their homeland. I also can not recall any group suffering the violent and irrational hatred of so many nations as the Jews have.

Lacqueur's history traces this unique movement. It's success was very fragile; the many decisions from world leaders could have gone much differently if made a few years sooner or later. Jews did not initially support it broadly; many prefered assimilation to their country of birth and some felt that the growing socialist movement provided a better answer to anti-Semitism. Even within the Zionist movement political infighting was strong.

Yet the worst fears of those seeking a refuge from growing European anti-Semitism did not forsee the scope of the Holocaust, exterminating 6 out of 7 Jews in Europe. This emboldened the survivors and motivated just barely enough world sympathy to formulate the creation of the Jewish state.

The reaction of the Arabs was neither surprising or unique in the course of developing nations. Lacqueur has the advantage of hindsight to examine policy mistakes and examine how it could have been different, but concludes the difficulty would have remained regardless.

This examination shows Zionism not as a righteous holy ordained movement, nor is it a an evil racist colonial movement as the modern Arab media prefers to portray it. It was a politically and diplomatically unique solution to a very serious and unique problem.

That the success of the Zionist enterprise has not yet yielded the peace they so desperately seek, makes this work only an introduction, but a valuable source to those seeking to understand the volatile Middle Middle East of the 21st century. There are many more chapters to be written.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on May 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
A History of Zionism is still a well written, thoroughly researched book. Laqueur explores the roots of Zionism in the French Revolution right through to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. One of the great strengths of the work is that Laqueur explains in detail the political factions and in-fighting in the Zionist congresses, exposing the reader to men who have been all but forgotten to history. On the negative side, the work places too far an emphasis on Zionist activity in the Diaspora, and not enough in Palestine. Laqueur's work also suffers from the use of old sources (the youngest from the 1960s). His work is not informed by the more recent writings of the so-called post-Zionist school of historiography. When Laqueur quotes Ben Gurion, for instance, it is from official sources, and does not plumb the depths of Ben Gurion's complex and sometimes doubled sided motivations. The work also treats Zionism like a faltering child, which right up until the establishment of the State of Israel was about to keel over. This may or may not be true, but this overall stance informs the book deeply, and for a reader that does not agree with this, it can be a fatal flaw.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Movie Mogul on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books anyone can read on the history of Zionism. It is also very well written -making it a pleasure to read. One can really understand the very serious problems which faced the Jews in Europe and Russia in the 19th century -and some of the questions they were dealing with enable one to understand some of the tensions which still exist in Israel.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By rkruger on August 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was looking for a comprehensive history of Zionism and this is the only book I found that fit the bill. Checked author's background and took note of Mr. Laqueur's credentials, such as, for example, his past employment as a "Professor of History and Ideas at Brandeis University". Considering credentials of this sort, I fully expected this book to be written from a certain point of view and therefore was not disappointed when my expectations were met.

The book is expertly researched and is a must read for anyone who wants to understand how the State of Israel came to be and the currents and ideas that led to its creation. The author went to great lengths to describe different political movements within Zionism. He is very thorough in his description of the political process and his portrayal of political figures.

Nevertheless, this book has several issues with it. To start with, the author does not interpret Zionism in the context of the rise of the nation-state model. Zionism was and is, fundamentally, a nationalist movement, and its first seeds came from Germany, which had just undergone unification. The rise of the nation-state had also, in many cases, institutionalized antisemitism and attached it to a larger platform.
Second, the author is openly partisan, with particular hostility toward Revisionists such as Jabotinsky.
Third, this book is primarily a history of political Zionism. I didn't think enough attention was given to the economic development of the land in years before the statehood, which is a fascinating story of achievement in and of itself.

I recommend this book for its competent, well-researched, reasonably comprehensive content. I found no good alternative on the subject matter.
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