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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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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 + Zion's Dilemmas: How Israel Makes National Security Policy (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs) + Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service
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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: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


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

As the Israeli historian Benny Morris has noted, most of the leaders of Israel have not been in the military.
I.O.Pine
Interestingly,author even does not try to pretend to be impartial To be anti-Israeli is a contemporary political correctness, apparently.
Mark Golod
I've read around 50 books about the Middle East/Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.....this is the most meaningful and sobering.
William L. Yontz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 37 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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3 of 3 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Golod on April 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Thanks to the author who had gathered so much useful information and distorted it completely. His effort in supporting permanent war on Middle East remarkable so not unusual in western world (whether it conscious blindness,remnant (or
just) of antisemitism or stupid "Lawrence of Arabia" type of perception of the Arab world, I do not know. Interestingly,author even does not try to pretend to be impartial To be anti-Israeli is a contemporary political correctness, apparently. Lots of interesting information, but revolting interpretation
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dobrell on January 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is interesting to read. Contains a lot of historical facts. But the conclusions are always biased against Israel. It's very well to bash Israel for too harsh military methods etc. but the problem is that the Palestinians do not want peace. Which leaves Israel with little options apart from military. ((
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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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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Roberta Lyon on August 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an American Jew and progressive, pro-Israel, pro-Peace advocate, I find this book key to understanding Israeli blocks to peace with the Palestinians despite the many acts of anti-Jewish and anti-American terrorism. Patrick Tyler details the history of modern Israel from early Zionism to post WWII, pointing out just how leaders evaded fundamental concepts in the Balfour Declaration and continue to maintain an ardent militaristic leadership despite cries for democratic and moral values for all peoples. This well-documented investigative history provides the background for understanding just how fear, hate and revenge drive those in power, and how Israel avoids responsibility for peace-making while breaching the Oslo accords with impunity, continuing to encroach on Palestinian land, and preventing real peace negotiations toward to a two-state solution. The machinations of powerful individual leaders fighting each other for control in Israel, each with deep experience in the military elite, raise many questions about what is right and what is possible.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steve Hellinger on January 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
It is a shame that the publisher chose the title that he did for this remarkable book, because it will deter many people from reading Patrick Tyler's fascinating, intimate account of a half century of Israeli policymaking. The book is a page-turner, hard to put down as one views from a front-row seat the unfolding of history. Tyler's access to personal accounts enables him to take the reader into the offices, homes and often the thoughts of Israelis well known around the world as they battle one another in the effort to ensure their country's survival and shape its future. It would ideally be converted into a stage or screen play that would bring to life in unadulterated form the ongoing drama of a government constantly dealing with crisis.

The title, however, does reflect the book's theme and its greatest flaw, namely that it is acutely one-sided. It is not so much that Tyler's account of this period is biased as that it lacks the same inside look at Arab decisionmaking, which would have given context to the battles over war and peace that take place among civilian and military policymakers in Israel. This would have allowed the reader to decide where the responsibility for the ongoing conflict lies. As it now stands, the repeated assignment of blame to Israel will surely put off many people tired of the country -- its existence continually threatened by its neighbors -- being blamed for the never-ending hostilities.

Fortress Israel is a must read for an additional reason: the profound contrast in perspective that it provides. To the author and many others, Israel today is indeed a fortress, secure in its existence from any form of attack and thus misguided in its reluctance to trust its neighbors and third-party facilitators of peace.
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