This is an in-depth study starting with a good analysis of Palestinian social history from the early 1800s to World War I, followed by two interpretive chapters covering the Mandate period and 1948 to the present. Next comes "The Rise and Fall" of the PLO, and that chapter title is telling. The authors see the Oslo accords and all that has followed as a PLO sellout to Israel and the United States, and they deplore what they view as Yasir Arafat's autocracy and incompetence. The final three chapters continue that line with detailed treatment of the period since the beginning of the intifada in 1987. Tough talk, but this is no shrill polemic. Based on solid research, the book presents a tightly argued interpretation that should jar the complacency of those who accept the American self-image of the "honest broker" and see the "peace process" as irreversible. Still, given the power imbalance that Palestinians have long faced, what good alternatives are there to seeking incremental gains?
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.