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Fortress Israel: The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country--and Why They Can't Make Peace Hardcover – September 18, 2012


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Fortress Israel: The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country--and Why They Can't Make Peace + The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (Norton Paperback) + The Invention and Decline of Isræliness: State, Society, and the Military
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Editorial Reviews

Review

[A] readable and informative new history . . . timely. (The Economist)

[A] revealing chronicle of Israeli foreign and defense policy . . . Tyler's well-researched account illuminates an ugly and troubling dimension of Israeli policy and politics. (Publishers Weekly)

Tyler presents a sharp critique of the close relationship between the Israeli government and the officer corps of the Israeli military . . . [he] researches deeply and does not pull his punches. (Booklist)

Fortress Israel is the definitive historical and analytical account of the role that Israel's military has played both in Israel itself and in the wider Middle East. In Patrick Tyler's deeply reported and very well written account, one learns how a militarized Israeli culture has permeated the decision making of Israel's governments for decades and how that culture affects the calculus of its politicians today. If you want to understand Israel's future--and also how that future may play out in the Middle East--this book is mandatory reading. (Peter L. Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad)

In this exceptional book, Patrick Tyler demonstrates with meticulous documentation and revealing interviews with the country's national security experts how Israel's founding military and intelligence leaders were essential to the survival of a young nation. Tyler also tackles the vexed question of our era: Will Israel's warrior ethos and its legacy of zero-sum strategies for dealing with its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians prevent it from crafting a lasting peace? Tyler's analysis of how much the world lost with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin is definitive and heartbreaking. Fortress Israel is essential reading for students of the Middle East. (Howell Raines, former executive editor of The New York Times)

With Fortress Israel, Patrick Tyler takes his place in the first rank of historians of Israel and the modern Middle East. He presents a provocative but objective look at the militarism that has driven Israel's leaders since the founding of the state and explains vividly--without ideological cant or bias--why generations of tough-minded sabras have found it so difficult to convert their battlefield successes into a lasting peace. (Terence Smith, Israel correspondent for The New York Times during the Six-Day and Yom Kippur Wars)

A rare and often disturbing portrait of Israel's military elite, with all its foibles, rivalries, and vicious infighting. (Martin van Creveld, author of The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel)

About the Author

Patrick Tyler worked for twelve years at The Washington Post before joining The New York Times in 1990, where he served as chief correspondent. His books include Running Critical, A Great Wall (which won the 2000 Lionel Gelber Prize), and A World of Trouble. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; F First Edition edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374281041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374281045
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,015,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patrick Tyler was born in 1951 in St. Louis, Missouri, but grew up in Texas where he attended Ross Sterling High School in Baytown, and attended the University of Texas at Austin for one year (in Physics) before moving to South Carolina, where he graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1974 with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. He edited two weekly newspapers in rural South Carolina (1974), before spending a year at The Charlotte (N.C.) News. In 1976, he joined The St. Petersburg Times. In 1978-79, he produced and hosted a PBS Network series, Congressional Outlook, and the next year joined The Washington Post, where he worked for 12 years covering defense, intelligence and national policy issues. From 1986-89 he was Middle East Bureau Chief for The Post. He resigned in 1990 to join The New York Times in Washington as military analyst, then resumed his career as a foreign correspondent based first in Beijing, then Moscow, Baghdad and London, from where he resigned in 2004. His books include a history of the nuclear attack submarine program under Admiral Hyman G. Rickover ("Running Critical," Harper & Row, 1986), a history of American relations with China ("A Great Wall," PublicAffairs, 1999) and a history of American presidents and the Middle East ("A World of Trouble," Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009). He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Linda, an author and teacher. His home page is: www.patricktyler.org

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Sydney reader on November 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is 500 pages long and there isn't a boring page in it. Is it critical of Israel? Yes, it is. A constant theme throughout is that Israel is far too militaristic and has rarely tried diplomatic means to achieve its objectives. Whether true or not, there is a lot of information in here which appears in no other books on this topic. The author's knowledge of the main players is astounding, and the footnotes attest to meticulous research. While there will never be a last word on this topic, this book is an excellent contribution and a great read for anyone wishing to understand how the Middle East got into such a mess.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An extremely thorough and well documented piece of non-fiction that overwhelmingly makes the case that the Israeli culture is all about the IDF. I've read around 50 books about the Middle East/Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.....this is the most meaningful and sobering. What I thought were aspects of the Israeli culture, are, in fact, the entirety of it's leadership culture.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By I.O.Pine on February 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
The subtitle of Tyler's book makes a bold claim, but Tyler neither shows that a military elite runs Israel nor that those who run Israel cannot make peace. As the Israeli historian Benny Morris has noted, most of the leaders of Israel have not been in the military. The current prime minister was in the military but hardly one of its elite. Those who dominate Israel today and who are unlikely to make peace are right wing ideologues whose military background, if any, is largely irrelevant to their politics. Tyler has misdiagnosed the problem.
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18 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jaffa on November 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Well researched ents said - ignore the 1 star reviews. Clear bias in their agenda.
Very detailed and well researched account tracing right back to the early days of Israel. Some accounts of various statements may be challenged but you get the general consensus on the state of mind that created what we see today in Israel. Having been there and travelled through West Bank, across various crossings and experienced the attitude of some aspects (not all) of the Jewish state - especially the IDF - I find it hard not to agree with the general picture that Tyler portrays of Isreali mindset.
Great book - I'm reading for a 2nd time
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51 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Doug Brinkley on September 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Note how the one star reviewers are attacking the book NOT really based on anything IN the book (except when referencing a now dis-credited WSJ review that put words and connections into the author's mouth that he didn't really say or structure in the early part of the work).

The vast bulk of our one stars posts are basically an attack on anyone who doesn't buy their fanatically pro-Israel outlook. Anyone who doesn't believe what they do on the subject of the Israeli-Arab confict is somehow, in the view of the one stars, bowing down to imaginary terrorist groups.

The one-star reviewers don't like the book because it doesn't strictly follow the expected and usual "Zionist propaganda" line they would prefer. They can't stand that someone for a change is telling the IDF military/political story over the decades like it is and how it unfolded...Note how the one star reviewers constantly reference events concerning the Jewish people in Europe in the 1930's and early to mid 1940's that have in practical terms ALMOST NOTHING to do with the Arabs & Israelis of the Middle East conflicts from the 1950's to the current day (2012). What you are seeing acted out among the 'one-stars" in that aspect is nothing more than a mythic internalized psycho-drama of old ethnic history on another continent used for current-day political/propaganda purposes in both the Middle East and on the world stage.

Our one-star reviewers appear to be well-grounded in Israeli propaganda from the 1950's to 1960's with a bit of the current-day Likudnik/Israeli right-wing Jewish nationalist outlook thrown in for good measure.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rajesh S. Raghavan on December 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author of this book is critical of the militaristic direction of Israel's policies in the Middle East. And he marshals an impressive set of facts and insider accounts to support these claims. Yet one could still read this book, acknowledge the overall factual context of the book, yet still disagree with the author by still leaving one's encounter with the book as a supporter of Israel. (I am deliberately taking this point of view of disagreeing with the author, yet still appreciating his argument.)

As opposed to following a more idealistic foreign policy that the author would prefer, Israel has chosen to take the realist approach of Morgenthau, Waltz, and Mearsheimer in dealing with its immediate neighbors. Yes, one could make the case that Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion had a pattern of taking overly militaristic, often covert actions that set the tone for Israel's local foreign policy in the decades to come; yet keep in mind that Israel's founders were survivors of the Holocaust when the rest of the world ignored the plight of European Jewry, first during Kristalnacht and other events in Germany, and later even after learning during the war of the Final Solution. Ben-Gurion's covert acts may at times have been too provocative, yet they need to be understood by us in context, 70+ years removed from the Final Solution.

Furthermore, one cannot ignore the fact that Jews were returning to the land promised to them by God in the Bible, perhaps the most influential book in Western Civilization.
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