To understand the unique nature of Zionism, the political movement which revolutionized the marginal existence of world Jewry, the author grapples with its ideologues on their own terms. Deftly fusing biography and intellectual history, he charts two rival conceptions which encompass the various schools of Zionist thought. One focused on the dangers besetting Jews in their adopted countries, and optimistically asserted that this persecuted community would be restructured by sovereignty on its ancient soil and provided with a «normalized», Western existence. The other perspective, rooted in the people's centures-old attachment to the biblically covenanted Eretz Israel, emphasized the preservation of Jewry's singular identity in the projected commonwealth. The resolution of this dialectic, in the author's view, continues to remain open.