This reads like the first draft of what could have been an interesting and important contribution to the literature about the Middle East. But even so, Perlmutter is worthwhile for his unique angle of vision, political insights, and chatty inside look at some of Israel's major personalities. He begins with the premise that the best way to understand Zionist and Israeli history is through an analysis of how the various partitions of the land and the concomitant attempt to define borders have formed the heart of the region's political debate and military adventure. Perlmutter finds that the post-State partitions were all due to Arab-initiated wars, and he believes it will be up to the Arabs--not the superpowers or the Israelis alone--to agree to the final borders. It has traditionally been very difficult to write about the emergence of Israel because the effort must synthesize ideological, historical, and biographical developments inside and outside Jewish nationalism. This book succeeds no better than its predecessors in forging such a synthesis, though its focus helps a bit. Perlmutter's strengths are political analysis and creating pen portraits. His descriptions of political infighting and interplay and his brief, sharp pictures of political leaders, especially Ben-Gurion (who emerges as a kind of hero of the book) are excellent. In sum, despite a lingering aura of haste, a valuable work, especially for those with some familiarity with the basic history of a troubled region.