One of the best books on Israel and Zionism, this volume by Irish author Conor Cruise O'Brien deals with a poisonous subject in an intelligent manner, without avoiding taking sides, but attempting, and mostly succeeding, to understand all sides. Make no mistake, this is a pro-Israel book, and that is what I like about it. It manages to favor the Israelis in their struggle, but the author is an Irishman, so, at least, we won't have to listen to those who accuse anyone that takes a pro-Israel stance of being a Zionist. O'Brien does not see the Arabs with much benevolence, but it is difficult to blame him, given his knowledge of both Israelis and Arabs. His argument is plain from the title: the State of Israel has been subjected to a "siege" ever since its founding day, and, actually, the siege has been in operation from before. To the argument, so many times repeated that some people give it the quality of gospel, that before the creation of the modern State of Israel Arabs and Jews lived in harmony and Arabs didn't resent or hate their Jewish neighbors, O'Brien answers, through argument and solid foundations, that the resentment and hatred were there before World War I, and found expression in some of the most violent outbursts of mob action against the Jews ever seen. Of course not every one hated every one else, but the very powerful seed of dislike of the stranger, the dhimmi (second class subject in a Moslem land, always a non-Muslim, and increasingly a Jew, since Christians had powerful patrons in the nations of Europe) were already there, and so was their bitter fruit. Those who do not like Jews will skip this book, since the author manages to be non-Jewish but very much pro-Israel. However, those who want to know about the conflict, but do not want to read what they fear might be "propaganda" from either side, will find much of value in "The Siege." It has a clear slant, but that does not invalidate its information and the conclusions of the author.