Diamonds and war: State, capital, and labor in British-ruled Palestine

David De Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


"well-written and meticulously researched and following several story lines.". International Review of Social History. "This book, aimed at labour historians but also interesting to scholars engaged in Colonial Studies, provides a valuable account of how government and private capital became intertwined, thereby wresting the power over policy from the common people and handing it to those motivated mainly by their own profit, resulting in painful inequalities that reverberate in Israel to this very day.". European Review of History-Revue européenne d'histoire. "This is an important and thorough study that will speak to students and scholars of economic thought, labour history, colonialism, capitalism and British-ruled Palestine.". Social History. "This meticulously researched and well-written book establishes the author as the ultimate authority on the diamond-cutting and -marketing business of Israel and as one of the leading writers... on the history of the world diamond industry. Even for those with a solid background in mining and business history, there is much to learn from this lengthy, complex, and intriguing study.". Business History Review. "This well-written, highly detailed book is superbly researched: De Vries has made use of multiple archives, memoirs, and contemporary publications, including the diamond trade press. The book may not offer an easy read for undergraduate-level classes. It will be of interest to a cross-disciplinary range of business and economic historians, scholars of labor or empire, and historians of Mandatory Palestine and Zionism.". American Historical Review. "The author's meticulous research, uncovering and fruitfully utilizing a rich body of archival and published sources, has enabled him to unfold the fascinating story of the war-related emergence of diamond cutting and polishing in Palestine and place it within its appropriate domestic colonial, and international contexts...The detailed and insightful narrative it offers is a valuable contribution to our knowledge.". The Journal of Israeli History. "The author has thoroughly researched the topic-indeed sixty-page pages are given to appendices and notes. The book will be useful for any collection devoted to industrial development, labor relations, and the social history of state-building in mandatory Palestine, and will be an essential reference book on how the Israeli diamond industry became established.". Israel Studies Review. The mining of diamonds, their trading mechanisms, their financial institutions, and, not least, their cultural expressions as luxury items have engaged the work of historians, economists, social scientists, and international relations experts. Based on previously unexamined historical documents found in archives in Belgium, England, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United States, this book is the first in English to tell the story of the formation of one of the world's main strongholds of diamond production and trade in Palestine during the 1930s and 1940s. The history of the diamond-cutting industry, characterized by a long-standing Jewish presence, is discussed as a social history embedded in the international political economy of its times; the genesis of the industry in Palestine is placed on a broad continuum within the geographic and economic dislocations of Dutch, Belgian, and German diamond-cutting centers. In providing a micro-historical and interdisciplinary perspective, the story of the diamond industry in Mandate Palestine proposes a more nuanced picture of the uncritical approach to the strict boundaries of ethnic-based occupational communities. This book unravels the Middle-eastern pattern of state intervention in the empowerment of private capital and recasts this craft culture's inseparability from international politics during a period of war and transformation of empire.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherBerghahn Books
Number of pages351
ISBN (Electronic)9781845458003, 9781789201178
ISBN (Print)9781845456337
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2010

ULI Keywords

  • uli
  • Diamond cutting industry -- Eretz Israel
  • Eretz Israel -- Economic conditions -- 1917-1948, British Mandate period
  • Eretz Israel -- History -- 1917-1948, British Mandate period
  • Eretz Israel -- History -- British Mandate period, 1917-1948
  • Eretz Israel -- History -- 1917-1948
  • Israel -- History -- 1917-1948
  • Eretz Israel -- History -- Mandate period


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