Like many (non-Jewish) people the situation in Israel is at times distressing but understanding its roots and drivers has been difficult unless you have the time and patience to wade through often verbose and thoroughly unreadable tomes. Ari Shavit tries as hard as he can to make the history of modern day Israel understandable. He pulls no punches when it comes to explaining the why things area as they are - but through the combination of personal history, candid interviews and highlighting the double sided nature of what has happened he finds a way of weaving a story that is (mostly) balanced and educational. For the first time, I understand much better the plight of the palestinians - from the beginning of the Zionist thrust post WW2 that stemmed from a need for a secure place to avoid further (Holocaust type) persecution through to the more recent settlements of the West Bank. I also think that because the book deals with the more recent (2013/14) situation vis a vis Iran, it offers a unique perspective looking forwards as to what might be in the pipeline to come. Rarely have I found a book (last one was Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond) that is impossible to put down.