Patrick Tyler's Fortress Israel is an epic portrayal of Israel's martial culture - of Sparta presenting itself as Athens. From Israel's founding in 1948, we see a leadership class engaged in an ideological struggle over whether to become the "light unto nations," as envisioned by the early Zionists, or to embrace an ideology of state militarism. In his first decade as prime minister, David Ben-Gurion conceived of a militarized society, dominated by a powerful defense establishment and capable of defeating the Arabs in serial warfare. Bound by self-reliance and a stern resolve never to forget the Holocaust, Israel's military elite has prevailed in war but has at times overpowered Israel's democracy. Fortress Israel shows us how the nation's martial culture envelops every family. Israeli youth go through three years of compulsory military service after high school, and acceptance into elite commando units or air force squadrons brings lasting prestige and a network for life. So ingrained is the martial outlook and identity, Tyler argues, that Israelis are missing opportunities to make peace even when it is possible to do so.