The title may echo another militant "ism" now very much in the news (namely, Islamism) but Medoff uses "militant" not in its new-fangled (and often euphemistic) sense of suicide bombers and airplane hijackers; rather, he uses it as an epithet for activists trying to influence U.S. Middle East policy by rude and blaring newspaper advertisements, intense lobbying of Congress, and dramatic protest rallies. To their opponents—especially in the "mainstream" Zionist establishment, the State Department, and the British Foreign Office—these American followers of Ze'ev Jabotinsky seemed incendiary indeed. Their tactics were aimed at prodding perfidious Albion to open the gates of Palestine to Jews in flight from Hitler, at keeping the White House pro-Zionist in the face of State Department Arabism, at halting the destruction of European Jewry, and at gaining some kind of recognition of the Jewish people as partner in the Allied struggle against Hitler.

These militants (usually called "revisionists") included the Irgun activist and nephew of Chief Rabbi Avraham Kook, Peter Bergson, the distinguished historian (and father of the future Israeli prime minister) Benzion Netanyahu, and the journalist-playwright Ben Hecht. Their genius lay in their ability to influence U.S. policy. Medoff credits them with three political achievements: 1) assent (by England, which needed American support) to a Jewish fighting force to join the Allied struggle against Hitler; 2) Roosevelt's creation of the War Refugee Board, his "only meaningful response to Hitler's annihilation of the Jews"; 3) Republican adoption in 1944 of a convention plank endorsing Palestine immigration and statehood, a move the Democrats felt obliged to imitate, thereby establishing an important precedent in American politics.

Militant Zionism in America has the freshness and immediacy of the archival sources and interviews that massively support its argument; and it adds another cubit to the stature of one of our preeminent historians of Zionism.