An epic tale . . . told relentlessly well. If you want to read a serious account of the price of Zionism, and a sobering review of Israel's new role as conqueror and occupier, then Hirst is your man
A myth-breaking general history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Gun and the Olive Branch traces events right back to the 1880s to show how Arab violence, although often cruel and fanatical, is a response to the challenge of repeated aggression.
Banned from six Arab countries, kidnapped twice, David Hirst, former Middle East correspondent of the Guardian, is the ideal chronicler of this terrible and seemingly insoluble conflict. The new edition of this 'definitive' (Irish Times) study brings the story right up to date. Amongst the many topics that are subjected to Hirst's piercing analysis are: the Oslo peace process, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the destabilising effect of Jewish settlement in the territories, the second Intifada and the terrifying rise of the suicide bombers, the growing power of the Israel lobby - Jewish and Christian fundamentalist - in the United States, the growth of dissent in Israel and among sections of America's Jewish population, the showdown between Sharon and Arafat and the spectre of nuclear catastrophe that threatens to destroy the region.