This book is an excellent “guide for the perplexed”. It is perfect for those new to the subject. I personally will be buying copies and foisting it on friends and relatives. At the same time I was surprised how much a learned from it (particularly about the Palestinian citizens of Israel).
It is not a history book per say, but it is a highly readable journalistic summary of the main events in the history of the occupation, with a big emphasis on the Nakba (the ethnic cleansing of half the population of the Palestinians from their homeland in 1947-48 by Zionist militias and terrorist gangs). The second half of the book is about the reality on the ground right now. It combines interesting (and often shocking) facts and figures with anecdotes from individual Palestinians on the ground: many of whom were recorded in conversations with White himself.
It is all highly readable and only about 120 pages long. It includes an excellent “Frequently Asked Questions” section, a solid bibliography recommending further reading, and a huge list of action, news and information websites.
The book also avoids the infernal BBC curse of “balance”. It is not balanced: it is against occupation, against ethnic cleansing and against apartheid. But at the same time, it is not polemical, and never less than factual and humane.
The book fills a perfect gap. I’ve lost count of the times people have asked me “can you recommend one book to start learning about Palestine-Israel?” For the first time, I now have a definitive answer.
White defends his book from Hasbara attacks on his blog here.