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Foxbats over Dimona: The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War Hardcover – June 5, 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“An ambitious and thoroughly revisionist account of the origins of the Six-Day War. By placing Israeli nuclear ambitions—and the Soviet reaction—as major links in the chain of events, the authors have produced a book that will stand out in the debate about the Cold War and the Middle East.”—Odd Arne Westad, co-chair, Cold War Studies Centre, London School of Economics
(Odd Arne Westad)

"A unique contribution to the history of the Cold War in the eastern Mediterranean. The authors challenge the predominant view of the 1967 war, and theirs is certainly an original explanation that has been little appreciated if not entirely ignored by Western historians."—David Murphy, former chief of Soviet operations, Central Intelligence Agency
(David Murphy)

“A fascinating, plausible, and hitherto untold tale. The authors demonstrate that the Six-Day War marked a major Soviet political-military defeat comparable to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Carefully researched and reconstructed, fast-paced and well-written, this book represents a major contribution to the history of the modern Middle East.”—Dov S. Zakheim, former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense 

(Dov S. Zakheim)

"A well-researched and provocative new look at the background to the 1967 Israeli-Arab war. Its central thesis appears unreal until one assesses the myriad sources and deep documentation that add up to a compelling argument. This book will immediately assume a place of prominence among the must-read sources for understanding the war."—Daniel C. Kurtzer, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

(Daniel C. Kurtzer)

"This book resolves one of the great mysteries of the Six-Day War, putting the Soviet Union at the center of the drama. Written with a wealth of documentary evidence, it has all the intrigue of a detective story, and all the pace of a novel."—Sir Martin Gilbert, author of Israel: A History
(Sir Martin Gilbert)

"This fascinating new book brings to light new, original research on the origins of the 1967 War. While data and facts are still coming in and skeptics may scoff, the Soviet role now appears to be larger and more intensive than many of us may have realized."—Thomas R. Pickering, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs 1997-2000, Ambassador to Russia 1993-96, Ambassador to Israel 1985-88 

(Thomas R. Pickering)

The text reads like the solution to a mystery, amassing information from voluminous sources... and making an intuitively compelling case...
(Daniel Pipes New York Sun)

It's a terrifying story, thoroughly sourced, and much of it is entirely new.
(Norman Lebrecht Evening Standard 2007-06-28)

"Ginor and Remez bring to the table new insights . . . and a profound challenge to the conventional wisdom. . . . [It] should become standard reading not only on the Six-Day War, but for Middle East history as well."—Mark T. Clark, Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa
(Mark T. Clark Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa)

"A welcome addition to the history of the Soviet role in the 1967 Six-Day War and the USSR's strategic deception. . . . priceless in fostering knowledge about the Kremlin's methods to provoke crises and conflicts to advance its interests and power . . ."—Ariel Cohen, Middle East Quarterly
(Ariel Cohen Middle East Quarterly)

About the Author

As journalists for Israel’s leading broadcast and print media and as historical researchers, Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez collaborated for 20 years to expose the extent of Soviet military involvement in the Middle East.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300123175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300123173
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,248,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The basic premise of the book is very interesting. That having been said I found the book difficult to read for the following reasons--
1. It seems to be a set of articles strung together in chronological order as a book. That in itself is not bad; however, there is no real cohesion or flow from one chapter/article to the next.
2. The book is set in an academic readership lever and not directed to the general public which makes it difficult for a person not immersed in the material to really comprehend. Good readability requires that a book be "dumbed down" for lay readers;
3. Because the book is a connection of articles--rather than a book of its own right, a most important chapter is missing between chapter 13 and 14--what happened on June 5 and the 6-day war(i.e., the wiping out of the UAR airforce, etc.) and how did that force the change in Soviet policy. We have to rely on our own memories of 1967 instead of having it put there to put the whole book in context. Again, this is probably a result of the book being on a higher academic level and a string of articles in which the reader is "presumed" to know everything;
4. On a more picky level, I find that endnotes which are common in academic matters should be replaced with footnotes. Footnotes do not detract from the book and would help the lay person immensely.
In addition, I find the font/set-up makes reading difficult.
5. All that criticism having been said, I find the book very interesting but difficult to slog through.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, exhaustively researched over many years by the authors, carefully elucidates the heretofor unknown but seminal role of the Soviet Union in the genesis of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

In brief, the author's hypothesis is that the USSR, by a campaign of incitement and disinformation (such as informing Syria of the non-existant massing of Israeli troops on the Northern Frontier) fomented an incidiary situation with the deliberate attempt to start an Arab-Israeli war. Why? The USSR was constitutionally opposed to the possession of nuclear weapons by the Israelis. US and Soviet intelligence services estimated that completion of a deliverable nuclear device by Israel was immenent. Soviet overflights of the Dimona reactor (using the MiG-25 "Foxbat") were part of a coordinated plan for a combined sea (amphibious), air and land campaign integrating Soviet armed forces with those of it's Arab allies to demolish the reactor and ultimately to destroy the Israeli State.

While Soviet involvement was never a secret, the conventional line is that the USSR exercised a "restraining" role vis-a-vis it's Arab allies (the short-lived "United Arab Republic" and, to a lesser extent, Jordan). The authors of this book convincingly demonstrate that the Soviets took a diametrically opposite approach: instigating the conflict, promising military, logistical and diplomatic support and encouraging aggression.

As is well known, the proximate causes of the conflict were the removal of the United Nations Observer force from the Sinai, closure of the Strait leading to Eilat (violating UN "freedom of the sea" resolutions and international law) and, not incidentally, a massive influx of Soviet arms and advisors.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
FOXBATS OVER DIMONA: THE SOVIETS' NUCLEAR GAMBLE IN THE SIX-DAY WAR is an excellent book which provides a lot of new information from Soviet Bloc archives and personnel about the Six-Day War in the Middle East. Authors Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez mine a lot of difficult, complicated archival material and supplement it with interviews of surviving participants to provide a Cold War context for a crucial regional war.

In so doing they are forced to step outside their skins and try to see the Six-Day War from the Soviet perspective. Previous accounts tend to ignore the Cold War context and interpret the Soviet role as a mirror of the US role. In other words, both sides tried to contain the conflict and make sure that a larger, nuclear war didn't break out. That makes sense in the West, because that's what Western militaries tried to do, especially the US which was increasingly bogged down in Vietnam.

Ginor and Remez, however, describe Soviet plans to intervene actively in a war they promoted. The authors also place the Isreali development of nuclear weapons at the center of Soviet plans. I hadn't ever heard of the MiG 25 being used in the Middle East until the early 1970s and yet they document a number of "Foxbat" (the NATO code word for the MiG 25) missions over Dimona before the Six-Day War started.

It looks like the Soviets planned to neutralize Dimona and help their Arab allies wipe Israel off the map. Israel wasn't a US ally in 1967. This operation involved landings and TU-95 strategic bombers. Given the Soviet operations in Hungary and especially Czechoslovakia (which came as a complete surprize to US intelligence), the authors may have a point.

The Soviet Union may have been much more involved than was previously thought.
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