This is the second edition of a book by a professor of history at Towson University. Arnold Blumberg, who died in Israel in 2006, wrote extensively on the Middle East, and was sympathetic to Zionism and Israel. The author regarded the mid to late 19th century as a vital period which established the foundations for modern Palestine and the future Jewish state. Running through the narrative is the theme of momentous change, with even greater change ahead.
Already there was increased immigration— Christian, Jewish, and Muslim with associated institutions on the ground. Agricultural progress, suburbs beyond the walled cities, empire-building, and war served to rouse Palestine from isolation and poverty. New forms of communication, such as steamship lines, the telephone, and the telegraph, offered speedier access to those who held real power, the Ottoman Turkish rulers and the intervening European nations — Britain, France, Prussia. Various features of the time and region are succinctly explained — capitulations; European consuls who became petty rulers and often very wealthy; Ottoman governance of Turkey and occupied lands; alliances of nations and national religions to missionize and to fight missions.
The author introduces a parade of vivid historical characters, including British Foreign Office Secretary Lord Ashley, a Christian Zionist; the rascally British consul James Finn; and Viceroy Mehmet Ali, whose rebellion against the Sultan in Constantinople appeared to promise reform. Blumberg is an adept interpreter of conditions in the Old Yishuv and of conditions in the Diaspora, which brought Jews to Palestine.
This work is well-researched and well-written. The re-publication of other titles by Blumberg would be a gift to readers and scholars. Acknowledgements, bibliography, glossary, index, illustrations, notes.