Most helpful positive review
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The Most Balanced Overview on the Conflict Out There
on December 9, 2011
This book is fantastic. I use it to teach all of my programs that introduce people to the Arab-Israel conflict because it is by far the most objective overview of the conflict I've ever seen. It is concise, and offers readers a strong understanding of both the roots of the conflict, and the contemporary manifestations of the conflict on the ground--and all in less than 300 pages!
Dowty's approach to the subject is also very interesting--rather than telling the story of the Arab-Israel saga as merely a succession of wars (which is how most books present it), Dowty contextualizes the subject matter by first introducing the readers to the two over-riding narratives. The first chapter tells "The Jewish Story," showing clearly that, to understand Israel and the Israeli worldview, one must understand Jewish history and the constant theme of persecution and national disaster that runs through it from the Spanish Inquisition to the east European pogroms, to the Holocaust. Chapter 2 tells "The Arab Story," and shows clearly that one cannot understand the Arab/Palestinian story without a decent understanding of Arab/Muslim/Palestinian history including the "golden age" of Islam, the philosophy behind Islam, and also the legacy of the crusades and western colonialism of which many Arabs/Palestinians view Zionism as an extension.
If you are going to buy one book on the Arab-Israel conflict, this is the one you should buy. I have never heard anyone who has read the book say ANYTHING about bias--moreover, my students always rave about how refreshing it is to hear an objective voice amongst the clamor of the conflict.