Mead leads us with an even tone and expert hand through centuries of history, and through disparate topics including Puritan theology, the politics at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the personality of Billy Graham ... In the guise of a book about Israel and America, in other words, Mead has actually written an ambitious and idiosyncratic history of large swaths of Western politics and thought. Implicitly, and perhaps even more important, the book makes a case that complicated and sensitive topics can still be covered with balance, sympathy, and even occasional humor ... Most striking, for this reader, was the reminder of the depth of Zionist enthusiasm in non-Jewish America, where the idea of a literal Jewish return to the Land of Israel was popular among Christians long before it caught on among Jews ... impressive and timely.
In nearly 700 pages, Mead engages readers with his thoughts on the historical arc between the U.S. and its relationship with Jewish people and Israel...The author supplies an overview of the political and cultural context of U.S. support from colonial times to the present...He reviews the words and actions from George Washington, Theodore Herzl, to American support for the Balfour Declaration, and American Christians who support the State of Israel...A meticulously written and engaging volume that may make readers pause and reconsider an issue they thought they already knew...Best suited for those interested in the history of the Middle East, Israel, U.S. studies, and Jewish history.
A veteran foreign policy scholar explores the ups and downs in the complex friendship between the U.S. and Israel...In the complicated business of foreign policy, writes the author, 'even experts go badly wrong, and history is full of examples in which very serious and thoughtful people have fundamentally mistaken the nature of the forces with which they were trying to deal'...So it is with Israel, a nation resolute in insisting that it be allowed to live on its own terms even while being closely shepherded by the U.S. In Mead’s view, the idea that Jews somehow secretly control the U.S. government and media, to say nothing of its finances, is not worth discussing...Far more important is the seemingly intractable issue of political balance in the always-volatile region, with American political leaders so often favoring close ties with authoritarian Arab states even as dollars-and-cents–minded policymakers have had to negotiate ways to 'ensure the security of the oil producers…so that no single power had the ability to interrupt the oil flow'...Writing fluently and with a depth born of decades of study, Mead urges that Israelis and Palestinians work harder to achieve ever elusive peace in the region, holding that 'the creation of a Palestinian state will move both sides closer to a mutually acceptable accommodation'...An essential contribution to the literature of politics and diplomacy in the Middle East.