Few areas on earth have more history, ancient and present, per inch of its territory than the Gaza Strip.
In antiquity Gaza was a horn of plenty, the hub of fabulous networks of desert and maritime trade.
Egyptian, Persian and Assyrian emperors fought over it, and so did Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionheart, Saladdin and Napoleon.
More recently Gaza's fame has been of quite a different kind -- a place of crisis, anguish and misery.
Since 170,000 Palestinian refugees arrived there in 1948, and the Strip became one more piece in the intractable Middle Eastern puzzle, it has gone through a succession of bloody upheavals: passing from Egyptian to Israeli to PLO to Hamas rule,- all the while remaining a volatile geopolitical flashpoint.
Apart from separating between Israel and the refugees in the south-western corner of Palestine, the Strip's borders coincide with other momentous fault-lines: between Islamism and secularism, tradition and modernity, East and West -- and between the comfortable first and the wretched third world. Nathan Shachar is a veteran correspondent who has covered Gazan affairs for more than three decades.
He has personally witnessed much of the turmoil which has made the Gaza Strip a permanent item of news bulletins for sixty years.
This book relates the Gaza Strip's rich and tumultuous history in a highly readable text, which includes time-lines for all major events and personalities (from the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III to Hamas' leader Ismai'l Haniye).
It brings perspective to the recent Israeli invasion of the Strip and its political and social aftermath.