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Susan Erony)

Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1948 by Anita Shapira (translated from the Hebrew by William Templer; 239,000 words)

The book traces the history of attitudes toward power and the use of armed force within the Zionist movement from an early period in which most leaders espoused an ideal of peaceful settlement in Palestine, to the acceptance of force as a legitimate tool for achieving a sovereign Jewish state.

“[A] classic... This brilliant intellectual history by a distinguished Tel Aviv University scholar shows how the exilic Jewish aversion to Machtpolitik shriveled in the crucible of state-building. Mainstream Zionism, which never saw itself as a movement of European usurpers, evolved what Shapira calls a ‘defensive ethos’ under British rule that skirted both compromise and confrontation with the Arabs. It hoped to dull enmity by offering Palestine's Arabs everything as individuals but nothing as a people. But when the proto-intifada of the Arab Revolt erupted in 1936, a new ‘offensive ethos’ recognizing the inevitability of an Arab-Jewish clash and the legitimacy of the sword gained ground among Mandate Palestine's Jews. Shapira's lucid, searching book — a model of historical curiosity and craft — is indispensable for anyone seeking to understand modern Israel, whose sense of its own power coexists painfully alongside a sense of fearful victimhood.” — Warren Bass,
Foreign Affairs

“Shapira succeeds... in presenting more than a one-dimensional intellectual history of the Zionist movement... Displaying her skills as a serious historian and a fine writer, Shapira offers a nuanced and even-handed examination of a variety of elements within the Jewish community based on a rich selection of original sources.” — Neil Caplan, The Historical Journal

“A rich and sophisticated work that nicely complements more conventional political-historical studies of the Arab-Israeli conflict... Shapira sifts through a vast body of material, ranging from essays, poems, and memoir literature to the unpublished minutes of political party and youth group meetings. Shapira interprets these sources with sensitivity and insight. Shapira writes with power, compassion, and warmth... a landmark book that is an outstanding contribution to the history of Zionist political thought and culture.” — Derek Penslar, American Historical Review

“This is a superb book. It is a well-researched, detailed, and scholarly account that provides new and valuable insights into the dilemma posed by the formation and elaboration of a more forceful Israeli military posture.” — Anthony DeLuca, The Historian

“Shapira’s powerful, well-written... lucid intellectual history of a segment of the Zionist movement... is fascinating and easy to read... highly educational.” — Elias H. Tuma, Journal of Economic History

“Anita Shapira provides an excellent analysis of the different debates within Zionism during the pre-state period... Altogether, this is an intellectual history of the Zionist Movement well worth reading. It is meticulously researched and analysed, incomparable in terms of depth, and essential for anyone with an interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Zionism and contemporary Jewish history.” — Kirsten E. Schulze, The English Historical Review

“[A] comprehensive political history of pre-1948 Palestine... The book is lucidly written, well researched, based on extensive primary and secondary resources. The translation from the Hebrew edition by William Templer is outstanding... this is perhaps the most conceptually sophisticated and thematically integrated work on the Yishuv recently written... Land and Power is a significant and an excellent contribution to our understanding of Zionism and the Yishuv.” — Michael M. Laskier, Shofar