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Today's Arab-Israeli conflict, ever-present in the news, is merely the latest iteration of an unending history of violence in the Holy Land—a region that is unsurpassed as witness to a kaleidoscopic military history involving forces from across the world and throughout the millennia.

Holy Wars describes 3,000 years of war in the Holy Land with the unique approach of focusing on pivotal battles or campaigns, beginning with the Israelites' capture of Jericho and ending with Israel’s last full-fledged assault against Lebanon. Its 17 chapters stop along the way to examine key battles fought by the Philistines, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, and Mamluks, the latter clash, at Ayn Jalut, comprising the first time the Mongols suffered a decisive defeat.

The modern era saw the rise of the Ottomans, and an incursion by Napoleon who only found bloody stalemate outside the walls of Akko (Acre). The Holy Land became a battlefield again in World War I when the British fought the Turks. The nation of Israel was forged in conflict during its 1948 War of Independence, and subsequently found itself in desperate combat, often against great odds, in 1956 and 1967, and then it was surprised by a massive two-pronged assault in 1973.

By focusing on the climax of each conflict, while carefully setting each stage, Holy Wars allows the reader to examine an extraordinary breadth of military history, glimpsing in one volume the evolution of warfare over the centuries as well as the enduring status of the Holy Land as a battleground.

GARY L. RASHBA , the author of more than 30 articles on defense, aerospace and international topics, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990 and currently lives in Israel with his wife and two children.

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