There’s nothing retiring about Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso, £18.99). The outrage surrounding Sand’s book in Israel has positioned him as an enemy within, an arch-revisionist working out of the university of Tel Aviv. Sand’s contentions – that much Zionist history derives from deeply unreliable sources and that Jewish identity is essentially defined by religion rather than race or nationalism – are thorough and reasonable, but this has not prevented his attackers from claiming he wants to write Israel out of history. Sand’s arguments are considerably more subtle; he does not question the right of Israel to exist; rather, he calls for a more rigorous examination of the premises on which that existence is based and suggests that they require redefinition. Sand takes on a formidable tradition in claiming that moral validity in the Middle East needs good history, and no discussion of the region any longer seems complete without acknowledgement of his book.