Writing dispassionately about the Holy Land, said Mark Twain, is as hard as being dispassionate about your own wife or children. Today, more than a century after Twain led the way for mass tourism to what was then a remote corner of the Ottoman Empire, the difficulties are redoubled.;The modern struggles of the Israelis and Palestinians - with their larger-than-life stories of disaster and redemption - command the obsessive attention and passion of sympathizers around the world. The 1993 Oslo accords promised to end more than a century of conflict between Jews and Arabs, but the Palestinian uprising that began in October 2000 has raised fears that the fighting could destabilize the whole region.;With the experienced journalist's eye for the telling detail and anecdote, Anton La Guardia offers an intimate portrait of the people behind the headlines. He explores their histories and cultures: from the religious upheavals of Jerusalem to the extremism of Jewish settlers and Islamic suicide bombers, from the first Zionist pioneers to the post-Zionist generation in Tel Aviv, from the stirrings of Arab nationalism to the Lebanon War.;The author explains how the searing traumas of the Holocaust and the Palestinian exodus have shaped Israeli and Palestinian societies. He also looks at the role of the outside world, from the awe-struck visits of medieval Christian pilgrims to the scheming of world powers. He traces how the promise of peace has turned into the curse of war, drawing on his reporter's notebooks from years spent covering the peace accords, Islamic suicide bombings, the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the outbreak of the latest Palestinian uprising. This book is part contemporary political reportage and part iconoclastic history. A dispassionate account of Israel and Palestine may be impossible, but this book is written with the first-hand knowledge, affection and exasperation of one who writes about embittered relatives.