This book studies how three nationalist movements - the Irish, the Afrikaner and the Zionist - came to power in the first part of the twentieth century. Based on close analysis of the historical record, it rejects the popularly accepted view that all three cases are classic examples of the power of race, religion and language in nationalist politics. Instead, it argues that the key to understanding their rise lies in the similar nature of their struggles for state power. Drawing on a new analytical framework for understanding national mobilization, the book shows that although cultural issues were critical to the formation of each movement, they were not sufficient to allow them to seize control of the state. Rather, their ultimate success was the result of political, economic and organizational factors conditioned by sustained ethnic conflict and extraneous international events, most notably the two world wars.