Best Basic Books on Zionism, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
If one wants to start from scratch or build an already sophisticated knowledge base about Zionism or modern Israel, the following list of books may have value. While the literature written on Israel, its Zionist origins, and the contemporary Arab-Israeli conflict is vast, this bibliography is a modest attempt to provide a few recommended books. Two simple criteria for a book’s inclusion in this list were used: the book provides a unique insight or perspective while covering a particular historical period, topic, or turning point, and/or the book has a rich bibliography for anyone to read further. The books are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of best to worst.
Almost four decades of teaching at the college level and a dozen years of helping teachers enrich their understanding of Zionism and Israel shaped the list. Since the recommendations are shaped by an historian, it has that bias. Elsewhere on the website one will find bibliographic references where other disciplines are highlighted. The College Level course section has syllabi covering particular titles, and within those syllabi one should find a rich array of wonderful scholarly articles.
Due to space and the objective of making the list relatively short, there are some omissions. They included detailed monographs on anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, the British in the Middle East, U.S. and UN, Arabs in surrounding countries, and the Palestinian Arabs. There are no inclusions about Zionist/Israeli historiography; using the themes in the bibliography section should provide a valued start for those inquiries. This list does not include titles or issues that are definitively anti-Zionist, anti-Israeli, or particularly controversial in focus.
Many of the finest books written on these three subjects were originally published during the first three-quarters of the 20th century; some have been revised, some are out of print. Many were written before archives and personal papers of the participating politicians became available to scholars and writers. As archives became available and open to scholars and writers in the 1970s and later, and the Arab-Israeli conflict became increasingly sensational and polemical, the books written about the conflict and Israel covered narrower topics and time periods. There were exceptions, but general histories seemed to fade until the early 2000s. Some more general histories were written again, and some were among the best written as context and perspective of Israel’s unique perseverance was chronicled. It is not certain, but the impression remains that many new titles about Israel were in direct or indirect response to international and scholarly efforts to delegitimize Israel as a state and Jews as a people.
Along the path of Israel’s history, many excellent memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies were written. Some of the best materials of article length, with only a few titles mentioned here, are the edited volumes of a particular time period or topic and often written after a conference covering a particular topic. Some of those articles in edited volumes we have included in other bibliographies on the site. In undertaking research over four decades, we have found bountiful treasures about topics that relate to Zionism and Israel published in annual yearbooks. These were published under the title of The Palestine Yearbook, The Israel Yearbook, and the annual yearbook publication of the American Jewish Committee. Short articles written by the most prominent Zionist and Israeli leaders can be found. Again, we have tried to include some of the best of these shorter synopses of events and topics.
The books listed here are all in English, though there are a multitude of equally first-rate foreign language titles available, mostly in Hebrew. Regrettably, many of these titles have not been translated into English. For example, two of the best books ever written about the Arabs who lived in Palestine (Areve Eretz Yisrael), coincidently with the same title and written by Yosef Vashitz and Ya’acov Shimoni were never translated into English. Neither were the superb multi-volume sets of either Sepher Palmach (History of the Palmach) or Sepher Toldot Hahaganah (History of the Haganah). There is a vast array of Hebrew titles on Jews in Eretz Yisrael published by Yad Ben-Zvi in Jerusalem and by other Hebrew and Israeli publishers over the years. Out of print items may be obtained through used book sellers, from many major university libraries, or through inter-library loan programs. More contemporary publications are sometimes available for purchase on-line, at book stores, and at local public and university libraries. One item that is essential to read on the history of Zionism, which is on-line, is the entry on Zionism that appeared in the 1906 edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia. It is the first entry noted in our list.
A word on the annotation provided for each entry. When a book is excellent or the best in its field, we have said so. Commentary and summaries of the book are provided. We have included the number of pages. Often, the best non-fiction book reads like a gripping novel, and some of these books are that good. We recognize that this list of more than six dozen books is in itself somewhat daunting, but in the end the reader has to choose where to begin, what topic is of interest, and at what level. The list could have been much longer, but a judgment to stop somewhere had to be made. My apologies to those individuals and particularly writers and scholars, who feel their own or favorite title was not included. Over time, the list will inevitably be revised and updated as new books are published, and new information is available to clarify assumptions and conclusions in the books listed here. We intend to add to this list as our readers reflect and send us their own suggestions with annotations for books you would like included. Contact us at [email protected]
We feel that the entire list is noteworthy; the books with a star are particularly valued.
Ken Stein, December 2013
Adler, Cyrus (ed.) and others. Jewish Encyclopedia: The History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, Vol. XII, 1906. This is one of the earliest comprehensive summaries of Zionism’s origins to appear in English. The entry begins with the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, tracing that relationship from Biblical times to the early 1900s. There is reference to the various opponents of modern Zionism, Christian attitudes, and the first years of the Zionist movement after Herzl’s Jewish State publication. Comprised of forty pages, its main geographic focus are the Eastern and Western European responses to its evolution. The entry does include a brief discussion of Alkalai, Gordon, Hess, Kalisher, Syrkin, and other early Zionist thinkers. Since the entire Jewish Encyclopedia is on-line, not just the Zionism entry noted here, it is perhaps useful to identify those key thinkers enumerated in this entry, and find them elsewhere in the other volumes of the Jewish Encyclopedia. http://ismi.emory.edu/home/resources/primary-source-docs/Jewish%20Encyclopedia.pdf
*Avineri, Shlomo. The Making of Modern Zionism: The Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State. New York: Basic Books, 1981, 244 pp., with index. Written by one of Israel’s great scholars of the late 20th century, Avineri provides an introduction and epilogue, “Zionism as a Revolution,” and sixteen self-authored essays, each one focusing on a leading thinker or philosopher of modern Zionism. This is an excellent place to start and understand the varieties of Zionist thinking that evolved from the early 1800s forward. Having its own set of endnotes, it is easy to use each of Avineri’s chapters to dig deeper into the minds, preferences, and methods of Zionism’s intellectual origins. This is highly recommended for those interested in intellectual history and how each thinker contributed to the rich variety of Zionist philosophies.
*Avner, Yehuda. The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership. New Milford, CT: Toby Press, 2010, 731 pp,. with index. Avner was a speech writer for four Israeli Prime Ministers: Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Menachem Begin. Reading his prose transposes the reader to being in the room with a prime minister as each encountered world leaders and made Israel’s modern history. This is not a chronological history, but a delightfully intimate look at four key personalities, written with zestful engagement.
*Ben-Sasson, H. H. (ed.). A History of the Jewish People. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976, 1170 pp. Composed of seventy chapters, beginning with the origins of Judaism and ending with the aftermath of the 1973 War, this is a magisterial book to read and own. It is easily the best overview of Jewish history in one volume; its contents can be dense, but certainly encompassing. Divided into six historical sections, each is written by a world-class scholar. This book will probably not be read from beginning to end, but by chapter, topic and time period determined by the reader’s interest at the moment. Most useful for the reader that wants to probe further, each of the seventy chapters has a basic bibliography that directs future readings on a particular topic. With its extensive index, the book has value for readers, learners, and educators of all ages.
Bickerton, Ian and Carla Klausner. A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Kansas City, MO: University of Missouri, Pearson College Division, Sixth Edition, 427 pp., with charts, graphs, documents, maps, chronology, and pictures. For almost two decades I have assigned this book to all undergraduates who take my course on the introduction to the Arab-Israeli Conflict. It is readable and not polemical. Words are carefully chosen in describing events and personalities. If you need a primer to the conflict, this is as good as any place to begin.
Cohen, Hillel. Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948. University of California Press, 2008, 314 pp. Using primarily Arabic sources, the author focuses on how Jewish nation-building was aided by Arabs living in Palestine. He is careful to make distinctions between those who helped the Zionists strictly out of financial motivation and those who were interested in sustaining relations with Jews as they slowly built the nucleus for a state. It is highly readable and contains a bibliography well worth using if looking at the social and political interactions of the communities during the Mandate Period.
Dinur, Ben Zion. Israel and the Diaspora, Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society, 1969, 206 pp. This is a short and engrossing history of the Jewish world in three time periods: Israel in the Diaspora, The Modern Period, and the Rebirth of Israel. Dinur is a devoted Zionist historian. He is descriptive and analytical in demonstrating how Jews stayed a people and connected to the land of Israel. Dinur “found” Zionism in every period of Jewish history. For him Jewish historiography was wrapped in Jewish identity to Eretz Yisrael. Dinur was Minister of Education and Culture in Israel from 1951-1955.
Dowty, Alan. The Jewish State: A Century Later. University of California Press, 1998, 337 pp., with index. Comprising ten chapters and an epilogue, this readable book places the ultimate success of Zionism and Israel in Jewish history, particularly an evolution of Jewish peoplehood. Jewish survival required establishing self-governing mechanisms where reliance upon one another was necessary in order to survive as persecuted minorities wherever they lived previously. He concentrates on how Zionists and Israelis built a civil and civic society and practiced democratic means that threaded together the varieties of Zionism. His chapters on societal divisions, religion, Arabs in Israel, and Israel between the 1967 War and Israel’s century celebration in 1997 are indeed worthy. The bibliography he presents is encompassing and provides a particularly useful beginning for a deeper glimpse into Israel, its people, and the issues that shaped it.
Eisentadt, Shmuel N. The Absorption of Immigrants: A Comparative Study Based Mainly on the Jewish Community in Palestine and the State of Israel. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1954, 275 pp. This is the best book on Jewish immigration to Palestine during the Yishuv and the first years of statehood and was written by a world class Israeli sociologist. Analyses of why immigration took place, how it was managed, types of immigrants, and case studies are lucidly included.
Eliath, Eliyahu. Zionism at the UN: A Diary of the First Days. Jewish Publication Society, 1976, 331 pp. An excellent first-person memoir of the Zionists’ pivotal work at the opening of the UN, this book covers the period of 1945-1946. Eliath worked in the Jewish Agency office in Washington, DC, from 1946-1948, and became Israel’s first Ambassador to the United States.
Evatt, Herbert V. Task of Nations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1952, 279 pp. This is a first-hand account by an Australian representative at the UN during the crucial 1947 UN debates on Palestine and the partition decision. With his pro-Zionist outlook, Evatt details the intricacies of how the Zionists lobbied for their cause.
*Flohr, Paul Mendes and Jehuda Reinharz, The Jew in the Modern World A Documentary History Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1995, 741pp. Easily one of the most comprehensive, if not the best source book, with original writings covering Jewish philosophical, intellectual, cultural, religious and secular history from the 1700s through the foundation of Israel. The volume contains more than 300 entries and is divided into eleven time period sections. Wonderfully rich explanatory notes, biographical sketches and sources for further reading are provided along with a useful index. The book is an essential compendium for any level of Jewish history learning to 1949.
*Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Avon Books, 1989, 635 pp., with index and superb bibliography. Writing diplomatic history from multiple viewpoints is more complex than writing about one event, individual, or concept. In this case, writing a history of the Middle East during the World War I period, when the Ottoman Empire dissolved and a new Middle East was born, is uniquely challenging. Modern Middle Eastern states were formed and relationships with Arab and Zionist leaders were forged, while Britain and France divided the area into mandates or trusteeships. Dozens of books have tried to cover parts of the period, but none has covered it as well as Fromkin does in this detailed yet easily readable history.
Garcia-Grandos, Jorge. The Birth of Israel as I Saw It, 1949. New York: Knopf, 1949, 291 pp. This is a first-hand account by the Guatemalan UN representative of the UN discussion and debate on Palestine’s partition in 1947 and 1948. Garcia-Grandos’ account is an excellent glimpse into Israel’s diplomatic foundations.
Goldscheider, Calvin and Alan S. Zuckerman. The Transformation of the Jew. University of Chicago Press, 1984, 279 pp., with index including a 23-page bibliography of general Jewish political sociology across the world. The core thesis in this wonderfully written book is how 80% or more Jews lived in non-democratic settings in the 1880s, and a century later 70% of them were living in democratic settings. Industrialization, modernization, demographic growth, urbanization and options to move to economically better and more physically secure settings prompted this massive change in Jewish identity. This is a little known book that should be read in order to understand how Jews went from relative powerlessness to power, including the creation of a nation-state.
*Halpern, Ben. The Idea of the Jewish State. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969, 483 pp. Authored by a world class historian of Jewish history, this is one of the best books written covering the history and context of modern Zionism, evolution of Israel, and Israel in world politics. The book is worth owning only for access to one of the richest bibliographies on Zionism and Israel during that time.
Harkabi, Yehoshafat. Israel’s Fateful Hour. New York: Harper Row, 1988, 256 pp, with index and short bibliography. Written by one of Israel’s most esteemed analysts of Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Harkabi a former adviser to Menachem Begin and university professor makes the strong case for Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians. He argues against Herut and extreme viewpoints that refused to embrace negotiations with the Palestinians. Harkabi served as head of Israeli military intelligence in the 1950s and then moved on to be a professor in international relations and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University
*Hertzberg, Arthur. The Zionist Idea. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1997, 648 pp. This is one of the five most essential books to own and read about modern Zionism. It is compilation of readings of the most important Zionist writers and thinkers, and it is accompanied by a sterling synopsis of each writer. Best of all, in one hundred pages, Hertzberg provides a valuable and penetrating review of Zionism, certainly among the best ever written! There is no bibliography, only notes.
Horowitz, Dan and Moshe Lissak. Origins of the Israeli Polity: Palestine Under the Mandate. Chicago University Press, 1978, 292 pp., with index bibliography and glossary. This is a classic and masterpiece in its analysis of how immigrating Zionists created a political center from diverse political and economic origins. Though Arabs and Jews lived side by side, the Zionists welded together their diversities to create a political center capable of mobilizing for the needs of a state-in-the-making. The authors argue that the Zionist leadership willingly accepted elite formation not at the political center, and those at the periphery found common interest with the central elites. Whether commitment to an ideal or physical fear, and at times certainly both, the Israeli polity emerged because of its core commitment to see a Jewish state created in their time. If one wants to have an explanation about how the Zionists succeeded, this is an important book to read.
*Horowitz, David. State in the Making. New York: Knopf, 1953, 349 pp. This is an excellent and unique look at the last three years of the Yishuv, while the Zionists lobbied for the partition of Palestine into two potential states, and to that end held detailed discussions with the Americans, British, and several Arab leaders. The story unfolds through the eyes of a high-ranking but youthful Jewish Agency diplomat. Exact representations of diplomatic meetings, discussions, debates, trials and tribulations of the period are provided with descriptive clarity of people on a mission. If you want to understand the early years of lobbying for the cause of Zionism and Israel, this is an excellent place to start.
Hurewitz, J.C. Struggle for Palestine. New York: W.W. Norton Company, Greenwood Press, 1950; reprinted by Greenwood Press, 1968, 403 pp. This is the classic history of the Palestine Mandate, particularly its last twenty years. Written by a professor who taught for three decades at Columbia University, Hurewitz’s book sets a tone for detail and readability that remains unmatched by only a few noted here. These include Ben Halpern’s The Idea of the Jewish State, Michael Oren’s Six Days of War, and Anita Shapira’s Land and Power. Hurewitz focuses on the Zionist-Arab struggle over Palestine, including the roles played by all the important external influences on Palestine’s unfolding history. Hurewitz is candid, thorough and remarkably free of political bias. Along with a wonderfully written prose, the book contains a phenomenally rich set of endnotes with references for each chapter. His 25-page bibliography is unique because none of his sources are from after 1949, which means his monumental work was written without access to government cables and most first-hand accounts that were yet to be composed. And after more than half-a-century since its publication, The Struggle for Palestine remains a bedrock of the history of Zionism, Israel, and the emerging Arab-Israeli conflict.
Insight Team of The London Sunday Times. The Yom Kippur War. Doubleday, 1974, 514 pp. Written without the use of primary sources or documents from the period, this is a highly readable account of events that led to the War and culminated in the beginnings of Henry Kissinger’s post-War diplomacy.
Katz, Yossi. The Battle for the Land: The History of the Jewish National Fund Before the Establishment of the State. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2005, 412 pp. Easily the best single book on the work of the Jewish National Fund and its central contribution to the development of a geographic nucleus for a Jewish state. It is detailed and packed with analyses written by a scholar who devoted a lifetime to writing about Jewish nation-building and the JNF in particular.
Khalaf, Issa. Politics in Palestine: Arab Factionalism and Social Disintegration, 1939-1948. Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1991, 318 pp. The author provides a first-rate background to Palestinian Arab society during the 1940s and the Mandate, and then delves into the issues and personalities that dominated Arab elite factionalism. It is an honest and vivid account of how Palestinian Arab society fragmented and broke down, making it a bit easier for Zionists to succeed in establishing Israel. The book may be out of print, but it is definitely worth the effort in securing and reading it; its bibliography is an excellent beginning for understanding the Arabs in Palestine during the Mandate.
Laqueur, Walter. A History of Zionism. New York: MJF Books, 1972, 604 pp. Written by one of the 20th century’s most distinguished historians, the book details the evolution of Zionism from the midst of the French Revolution to the present. Anyone who took a college Jewish history course in the late 1970s was asked to read Laqueur. It is thorough without being pedantic and is very readable.
Mahler, Gregory. Politics and Government in Israel: Maturation of a Modern State. Rowman and Littlefield, 2011, 387 pp., with notes. This is a first-rate basic textbook on the Israeli political system. The author sets the definition and functioning of Israel’s political system into an historical context of Zionism’s roots, the Mandate Period, religion, and Israel’s diverse sociological make-up. The Parliament (Knesset), the Prime Minister, political parties and interest groups, the electoral process and the function of government are each reviewed. The last third of the book touches on Israeli foreign policy, how it is made, the Palestinians, the West Bank, and the peace process. Other scholarly authors, such as Asher Arian and Reuven Hazan, have written fine books and articles on the Israeli political system; their works should be consulted for an understanding of Israel’s political system and Israeli voting behavior.
Marlowe, John. The Seat of Pilate: An Account of the Palestine Mandate. London: Cresset, 1959, 259 pp. This book is a British historian’s account of British presence in Palestine from the end of WWI to Israel’s establishment. Along with Christopher Sykes’ Crossroads to Israel, Marlowe’s history was written before archives and political controversies surrounded Zionism’s origins.
Metzer, Jacob. The Divided Economy of Mandatory Palestine. Cambridge University Press, 1998, 275 pp. This book is unrivaled in providing an understanding of how the early Jewish immigrants established a nascent economy based on small industries, light manufacturing, and service industries. Marrying immigrants to a new land was a key to Zionist success. Metzer provides background on Palestine’s economy before the Zionists, shows how Zionist capital fueled economic enterprises, and reviews the impact of new immigrants on the evolving Yishuv. The charts, graphs, and bibliography he provides make this book a formidable beginning for learning more about the Zionist economic infrastructure, and its strengths and weaknesses before the state was declared.
McDonald, James G. My Mission to Israel, 1948-1951. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1951, 297 pp. This is a first-hand account of the critical first three years of Israeli statehood, written by the first U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
*Oren, Michael B. Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Random House, 2003, 446 pp., with index. The book is easily the most comprehensive and readable account of the June 1967 War. Historian and later Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Oren’s prose is engaging and his story-telling is gripping. If you need to give a book as a gift, and want the reader to understand issues in the conflict and the cross-roads that Israel faced in May-June 1967, this is your purchase. Oren’s bibliography is extensive, covering all views associated with the War’s enfolding and aftermath.
Quandt, William B. Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1967. Brookings Institution, 2005, Third Edition, 533 pp., with an extensive bibliography. Tracing American engagement in Arab-Israeli negotiations from 1967 through the Bush Administration, Quandt gives us the view of the mediator/negotiator. Having worked in the National Security Council at the Middle East Desk in the 1973-1979 period, Quandt’s insights give the book a predominantly Washington view of how events unfolded. It is a book frequently used in introductory college courses that focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Rabinovitz, Abraham. The Battle for Jerusalem. New York: Jewish Publication Society, 1972, 470 pp. This book is based on some three hundred interviews of Israeli officials, citizens, and solders on the battle of June 5-7, 1967.
*Radosh, Allis and Ronald Radosh. A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel. New York: Harper Collins, 2009, 428 pp. This is easily the best and most comprehensive book on Truman’s recognition of Israel. Successfully, the authors insert the reader as witness to the personalities, U.S. diplomacy and policy options available in the 1945-1949 period. The bibliography is the first place one should go to understand all the additional nuances addressed in this highly readable account.
Rivlin, Paul. The Israeli Economy from the Foundation of the State through the 21st Century. Cambridge University Press, 2011, 288 pp., with index and references. Written by an economic historian, this book is unique in its depiction of how Jews established an economy in Palestine, linking an educated labor force with ingenuity and capital. He traces the philosophical distance travelled by the predominant socialist ethos initially held dear by Zionist founders to the capitalist technological force that has become Israel’s export economy of the 21st century.
Sachar, Howard. A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to our Time. Knopf, 2007, Third Edition, 1270 pp. One of the most detailed and authoritative histories of Zionism and Israel ever written, rich with detail and general conclusions, this book is among the three or four classic Zionist histories covering the early 1800s to the present. It is detailed, authoritative and written without polemic. This is an encompassing history with enormously rich detail, which includes forty-one chapters, thirty-eight maps and an index of detailed proportions. This book is the history of Zionism and Israel before there was Wikipedia.
Safran, Nadav. Israel: The Embattled Ally. Harvard University Press, 1981, 655 pp. This book covers the U.S.-Israeli relationship in a readable and exhaustive manner from Israel’s founding to 1976. It is remarkable for its detail, insights, summary and bibliography.
Safran, Nadav. From War to War: The Arab-Israeli Confrontation, 1948-1967. New York: Pegasus, 1969, 463 pp. One of the best histories of the conflict ever written, covering its origins until after the 1967 War. Written by a noted historian, the book details the conflict’s origins, the Cold War, Egypt, Nasser, inter-Arab relations, a summary of the politics of each state prior to the 1967 War, and 150 pages on the War itself.
Scharef, Zeev. Three Days. New York: Doubleday, 1963, 298 pp. This book covers the final three days prior to Israel’s Declaration of Statehood on May 14, 1948, written by Israel’s first Cabinet Secretary.
*Shapira, Anita. Israel: A History. Waltham, MA: Brandeis, 2012, 502 pp. This is one of the most comprehensive scholarly books on Zionism and Israel ever written. The book is divided into five parts, all chronological from 1881 to 2000. Each of the twenty chapters has a bibliography of books and articles enumerating the best scholarship available in multiple languages. Shapira’s prose is substantively erudite and analytical. This is not the first book you should read about the history of Zionism and Israel, but it is one that if you have not read, you will have denied yourself an historical feast.
*Shapira, Anita. Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1948. Oxford University Press, 1992, 446 pp., with an index and useful glossary. This is a magisterial work written by one of the finest Zionist historians to live, write and teach in the last quarter of the 20th century. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing how a scant number of Jews with diverse ideologies and geographic origins organized themselves into a political community formidable enough to create a state.
Stein, Kenneth W. The Land Question in Palestine, 1917-1939. University of North Carolina Press, 1984, 314 pp., with index. With extensive use of land registry and land department files of the Palestine Administration, Arabic sources and those of the Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund, this book describes Palestine’s land regime in late Ottoman times. It is a detailed account of how the British umpired the Zionist drive to acquire land for a state and Arab participation and reactions to that struggle. The bibliography is useful for anyone interested in the history of the early Yishuv to the 1940s.
Stein, Kenneth W. Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace. Routledge, 1999, 324 pp., with index and suggested readings. Using interviews with 84 participants in Arab-Israeli diplomacy, memoirs and recently opened archival materials, dispatches and memoranda of conversations, this book is a rich and detailed diplomatic account of the 1970s. It contains a lengthy introduction from 1948, featuring each of the personalities who participated in the diplomacy to come, the intense period of American mediation in that critical decade, and an epilogue to the post-1993 Oslo period.
Stein, Kenneth W. History Politics and Diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli Conflict A Source Document Reader for College Courses, August 2013, 1406 pp. This compilation includes 379 items covering the period from 1893 to present. These include accords, agreements, declarations, memoranda of understandings, original archival materials, proposed initiatives and plans, press conferences, primary source documents, political statements, speeches, secret understandings, summit conference protocols, treaties, UN Resolutions, and more. Many of the items are translated from Arabic, German, and Hebrew and appear here in print for the first time. There are thirteen maps covering the Ottoman period to the present, and a population chart of Eretz Yisrael/Palestine/Israel covering 1517-2012. The e-book is divided into six sections, each with a short introduction of the history of that period. It is updated annually. https://israeled.org/history-politics-diplomacy-arab-israeli-conflict/
Sykes, Christopher. Crossroads to Israel, 1917-1948. Indiana University Press, 1965, 404 pp. Written by the son of Sir Mark Sykes, a British colonial officer during the WWI period, this recital of Zionism and the origins of modern Israel is written from the viewpoint of a sympathetic Gentile Zionist. The book is very readable and recommended for teenagers as well as adults. If you need to pick just one book to read on the period from 1917-1949, this is the one.
Vital, David. A People Apart: A Political History of the Jews in Europe, 1789-1939. Oxford University Press, 1999, 944 pp. This is an extraordinarily detailed and thorough history. Coherently written for the sophisticated learner, it presents and analyzes the multiple options available to Jews during their major transformation as a people. Vital traces Jewish communal structures from the medieval to the present, the Haskalah failed emancipation, immigration, emergence of Zionism, and burgeoning anti-Semitism, leaving the reader at the outset of the Holocaust. If for no other reason, anyone interested in modern Jewish history, including Zionism, whether just getting started or an expert, should use the nineteen-page bibliography Vital provides.
Vital, David. Origins of Zionism. Oxford University Press, 1975, 395 pp. This is easily one of the best written histories of Zionism. With sharp insights and vivid conclusions, the book traces the roots of the movement from its source in Jewish tradition, with the majority of the book covering the half-century period prior to and concluding with the first Zionist Congress in 1897. Vital’s select and annotated bibliography is among the best available, dividing sections into general overviews, the Eastern and Western European backgrounds for Zionism, and the Zionist movement, covering books about most of the important Zionist leaders. The book is ideal for anyone seeking a comprehensive general first book on Zionism and plenty of suggestions on where to search further.
Zweig, Ronald W. (ed.). David Ben-Gurion: Politics and Leadership in Israel. London: Cass, 1991. Comprised of sixteen essays by different authors, the topics cover virtually every aspect of Ben-Gurion’s life. Each contributor has published other fine books and articles that pertain to Zionism and Israel.
Ben-Israel, Hedva Ben-Israel. “Zionism and European Nationalisms; Comparative Aspects.” Israel Studies 8, no. 1 (2003): 91-104.
Ben-Moshe, Danny. “The Oslo Peace Process and Two Views on Judaism and Zionism, 1992–1996.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 32, no. 1 (May 2005): 13-27.
Brown, Michael. “Divergent Paths: Early Zionism in Canada and the United States.”Jewish Social Studies 44, no. 2 (1982): 149-68.
Daccarett, Paula. “1890s Zionism Reconsidered: Joseph Marco Baruch.” Jewish History19, no. 3/4 (2005): 315-45.
Don-Yehiya, Eliezer. “Zionism in Retrospective.” Modern Judaism 18, no. 3 (October 1998): 267-76.
Eisen, Arnold M. “Reflections on the State of Zionist Thought.” Modern Judaism 18, no. 3 (October 1998): 253-66.
Goldstein, J. “The Attitude of the Jewish and the Russian Intelligentsia to Zionism in the Initial Period (1897-1904).” The Slavonic and East European Review 64, no. 4 (October 1986): 546-56.
Gorny, Yosef. “Thoughts on Zionism as a Utopian Ideology.” Modern Judaism 18, no. 3 (October 1998): 241-51.
Hametz, Maura. “Zionism, Emigration, and Antisemitism in Trieste: Central Europe’s “Gateway to Zion,” 1896-1943.” Jewish Social Studies 13, no. 3 (2007): 103-34.
Hever, Hannah, and Lisa Katz. “The Post-Zionist Condition.” Critical Inquiry 38, no. 3 (2012): 630-48.
Kelman, H. C. “Israel in Transition from Zionism to Post-Zionism.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 555, no. 1 (January 1998): 46-61.
Kelemen, Paul. “Zionism and the British Labour Party: 1917–39.” Social History 21, no. 1 (January 1996): 71-87.
Landau, Jacob M. “Muslim Turkish Attitudes towards Jews, Zionism and Israel.” Die Welt Des Islams 28, no. 1/4 (1988): 291-300.
Laqueur, W. “Zionism and Its Liberal Critics, 1896-1948.” Journal of Contemporary History 6, no. 4 (1971): 161-82.
Levenson, Alan. “Gentile Reception of Herzlian Zionism, a Reconsideration.” Jewish History 16, no. 2 (2002): 187-202.
Litvinoff, Barnet. “The Fall from Grace of Zionism.” Journal of Palestine Studies 10, no. 1 (1980): 185-87.
Luz, Ehud. “The Moral Price Of Sovereignty: The Dispute About The Use Of Military Power Within Zionism.” Modern Judaism 7, no. 1 (February 1987): 51-98.
Masliyah, Sadok H. “Zionism in Iraq.” Middle Eastern Studies 25, no. 2 (April 1989): 216-37.
Mendes-Flohr, Paul R. “Between Existentialism and Zionism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 47, no. 3 (September 1979): 429-40.
Parzen, Herbert. “Conservative Judaism and Zionism (1896-1922).” Jewish Social Studies23, no. 4 (October 1961): 235-64.
Porat, D. “‘Amalek’s Accomplices’ Blaming Zionism for the Holocaust: Anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel during the 1980s.” Journal of Contemporary History27, no. 4 (October 1992): 695-729.
Ram, Uri. “Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Bifurcation of Israel.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 19, no. 1-2 (December 2007): 21-33. doi:10.1007/s10767-007-9016-2.
Reinharz, J. “Chaim Weizmann : The Shaping of a Zionist Leader before the First World War.” Journal of Contemporary History 18, no. 2 (April 01, 1983): 205-31.
Reinharz, Jehuda. “The Conflict between Zionism and Traditionalism before World War I.” Jewish History 7, no. 2 (1993): 59-78.
Schweid, Eliezer. “Beyond All That: Modernism, Zionism, Judaism.” Israel Studies 1, no. 1 (1996): 224-46.
Shapira, Anita. “Anti-Semitism And Zionism.” Modern Judaism 15, no. 3 (October 1995): 215-32.
Shapira, Anita. “Labour Zionism and the October Revolution.” Journal of Contemporary History 24, no. 4 (October 1989): 623-56..
Shapira, Anita. “Zionism in the Age of Revolution.” Modern Judaism 18, no. 3 (October 1998): 217-26.
Shenhav, Yehouda. “Modernity and the Hybridization of Nationalism and Religion: Zionism and the Jews of the Middle East as a Heuristic Case.” Theory and Society36, no. 1 (February 2007): 1-30.
Stockton, Ronald R. “Christian Zionism: Prophecy and Public Opinion.” Middle East Journal 41, no. 2 (1987): 234-53.
Stork, Joe, and Sharon Rose. “Zionism and American Jewry.” Journal of Palestine Studies 3, no. 3 (1974): 39-57.
Taub, Gadi. “In Defense of Zionism,” Fathom Journal, October 2014,
Vital, David. “Ahad Ha-‘Am as the Sage of Zionism.” Jewish History 4, no. 2 (1990): 25-32.
Weissbrod, Lilly. “From Labour Zionism to New Zionism: Ideological Change in Israel.”Theory and Society 10, no. 6 (November 1981): 777-803.
Weissbrod, Lilly. “Religion as National Identity in a Secular Society.” Review of Religious Research 24, no. 3 (March 1983): 188-205.
Wiemer, Reinhard. “The Theories of Nationalism and of Zionism in the First Decade of the State of Israel.” Middle Eastern Studies 23, no. 2 (1987): 172-87.
Wistrich, Robert S. “Zionism and Its Jewish Assimilationist Critics (1897-1948).”Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, and Society 4, no. 2 (1998): 59-111.
Wistrich, Robert S. “Zionism and Its Religious Critics in Fin-de-siècle Vienna.” Jewish History 10, no. 1 (1996): 93-111.
Yiftachel, Oren. “The Myths of Zionism.” Journal of Palestine Studies 35, no. 3 (2006): 124-26.