Sicker examines the early stages of the process by which Palestine, an obscure and relatively miniscule backwater of the Ottoman Empire, became a critical factor in the history and convoluted politics of the modern Middle East. In doing this, he describes relevant aspects of the history of Palestine in the little known and poorly understood period from the Napoleonic intrusion in the Middle East to the end of the Ottoman Empire and the beginnings of British rule. Developments in this period are analyzed within the geopolitical context of the rivalries among the great European powers that were decisive factors in the modern history of the entire Middle East. During this period the emergence of a Jewish nationalist movement abroad served as a catalyst for the social and economic transformation of Palestine prior to the British entry into the area during World War I. It involved the unique attempt to reify the national aspirations of a people who, for the most part, lived outside the territory toward which those aspirations were directed. It also represented the previously unprecedented involvement of representatives of nongovernmental organizations in serious international political negotiations. How Palestine was reshaped by the various forces acting upon it during the period discussed is a key to understanding the subsequent history of the area. An important guide for students, scholars, and general readers interested in the Middle East generally and Palestine in particular.