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The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (Nation Books) Paperback – August 26, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1560254836 ISBN-10: 1560254831 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Series: Nation Books
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; 3rd edition (August 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560254831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560254836
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 60 people found the following review helpful By LD Lewis on August 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
I cover the Middle East and this book continues to be my most valuable source for understanding the dynamics of the region, the real history and the issues. If you only read one book on the History of Israel and Palestine, this is the one. A British Journalist, he doesn't have an axe to grind with either the Arabs or the Israelis which is probably why both don't care for him. He tells the truth about both, unvarnished. Engaging, Hirst understands the dynamics and does his homework. The new section in the revised edition takes you up through 9/11 and the war on terror. It fills in the blanks and makes sense of the insanity. I personally have bought ten copies of this book and I give it out to people who want to know. It is that good.
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55 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Joey on July 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
It's hard to find a good book on this subject in English that's written by someone other than an Israeli, or a supporter of Israel. This book is not anti-semitic, this book is anti-propaganda. Almost every reference which shows the Israelis in a bad light is a direct quotation from an Israeli leader. This book is heavy on facts, Hirst has many reference points, he does not make things up out of thin air. If you are looking for a book that tells you how the Palestinians are such horrible "terrorists", this is not that book. He is light on his criticisms of the Arabs, who have done their share of wrong. That's not what this book is about, though. This book is about the heart of the problem in Palestine, native people being removed from their land. It also focuses on how we in the west have been deceived for decades about the problem. In short, you need this book.
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66 of 85 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've only read the first edition, which I found in a used bookstore many years ago--I may eventually read this latest version.
Hirst is obviously on the Palestinian "side", but then I don't know how any honest person could look at the facts and not feel that a great injustice was done to them. I wouldn't read the Gun and the Olive Branch (or anyway, not the first edition) for a complete account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and there are various other books one should read, such as Tom Segev's "One Palestine Complete", which gives an unemotional and balanced account from various perspectives--Arab, Zionist, binationalist, British. But Hirst's book is a useful antidote to the silly romanticized view of Israel's history that many people receive in the US, which is similar to the whitewashed version of early American history that used to be taught, where the settlers were the good guys and the Indians nothing but vicious primitive savages and only one side committed atrocities. People who prefer that kind of mythical history will hate Hirst's book. (And probably Segev's as well.)
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48 of 62 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on March 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a superb history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from its origins in the Zionist dreams of the 1880s to the present. When this classic was first published in 1977, it was met with abuse and silence because it opposed the Zionist orthodoxy and showed how the Israeli state was set up as a typical colonial enterprise, harsh and unjust in its impact on the inhabitants of the land it colonised. The second edition of 1984 added three new chapters, this third edition has a new foreword of 131 pages bringing the book up to date.

Chapters cover: the seeds of conflict 1882-1920, no peace in Zion 1921-1935, Arab rebellion 1935-1939, Gun Zionism (driving out the British and the Arabs), the special uses of violence, the Arab-fighters, Greater Israel, the Arab Zionists, the gun and the olive branch, peace with Egypt, the rape of the West Bank, the invasion of Lebanon, the ravages of a purblind orthodoxy, Arafat's historic peace offer, Israel and the `friends of Israel' in America, no end of American partisanship.

Hirst analyses the Oslo peace process, the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the effect of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the intifadas, the power of the Israel lobby - Jewish and Christian fundamentalist - in the USA, and Sharon, who believes that the "idea of making peace with the Palestinians is absurd."

Palestinians, like Iraqis, oppose the hated, illegal occupations of their countries. Israel and the USA claim that there is no connection between their occupation and the national resistance. Israel, and the US support for it, is the main reason why people hate the USA. Israel is a strategic, political and economic liability.
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49 of 67 people found the following review helpful By SPM on October 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Whether you've just started to read about the history behind the violence in the Middle East or you've read hundreds of books on the topic, David Hirst's account is essential.
He begins with a 130-page introduction, a small book in itself, which brings the current conflict up to date. If you don't get any farther than this, you'll still learn a lot. By the end of this introduction --- which covers Palestian agreements to accept the loss of 78% of their homeland, the influence of the Israeli lobby in Washington, the Joan Peters' fraud, and nuclear blackmail --- you'll understand the basic thesis of Hirst's book: The Zionist plan to remove Palestinians from the Occupied Territories is the principle cause of conflict in the Middle East.
At that point, you'll either throw the book in the garbage and write an angry review, or you'll continue. If you continue, you'll read about the origins of the conflict, starting in 1882. Hirst quickly moves forward in time, hitting each major development (such as the Balfour Declaration) briefly but carefully. I liked this approach because I want an overview built on key facts, not an encyclopedic book that gets lost in the details.
Hirst continues, up to the early 1980s, where the previous edition of the book came to an end. The result is a 100-year history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, fully documented from a wide range of sources. Although you might disagree with one or two sources (such as Arab newspapers), he never relies on a single source. It's an impressive exercise in honest scholarship.
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