In This Review

The Israeli-Palestinian War: Escalating to Nowhere
The Israeli-Palestinian War: Escalating to Nowhere
By Anthony H. Cordesman with Jennifer Moravitz
Praeger Security International, 2005, 568 pp

It will not do to invoke Edward Gibbon's patron by exclaiming, "Another damned, thick, square book!" Gibbon wrote only some eight volumes, whereas Cordesman has already written more than 40. Most of Cordesman's books are thick both in pages and in substance. This book, with its comprehensive coverage enhanced by copious tables, maps, and chronologies, certainly is. Cordesman has written two earlier books on Israel and the Arabs, but this is his first venture to concentrate even more narrowly on Israel and the Palestinians. And concentrate the book does. This is no overview of Israel and the Palestinians going back to 1948. The war of the title is that which began with the al Aqsa intifada in September 2000, but the book's coverage of events starts with the first intifada, which began in 1987. Narrative chapters are interspersed with thematic treatments of everything from the tactics of this "asymmetrical war" to the role of different "actors" (including the Israel Defense Forces, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, and Hamas). Another chapter on the "outsider actors" shaping the conflict treats regional states (and Hezbollah) but, interestingly, not the United States or other outsiders. This is a solid reference work.