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3.3 out of 5 stars
How Israel Was Won: A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
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7 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
The synopsis claims that this is the only book you need in order to comprehend the complexities of the modern Middle East. He may be a psychologist, but a historian he is not. Just reading the introduction will tell you all you need to know about Baylis Thomas' leaning on the Arab-Israeli conflict. They say there are 2 sides to every story, but obviously he hasn't heard of that. He's biased, polemic, emotionally charged and if you depend on this book for your history lesson on the greatest divide this world has ever known, it is as good as you looking at it through one eye minus the benefit of peripheral vision. Maybe I'll go out and buy a book on psychology written by a historian. I'd probably have better luck.

Paul W

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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6 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
It's unbelievable that someone who claims to be writing a 'history' book can be so one-sided and biased. In no part of the book does the author adress the terrorism and violence the arab countries and the palestinians have used and are still using in order to attack Israel, and deny it's right of existence. The author simply is acting as a voice for the Palestinian and Arab propaganda, which is not interested in a peaceful and just solution in the middle east, but in the annihilation of Israel.
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2 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
The author is not a specialist in Middle East studies. He's not saying anything new or original. He's taken his material from an assortment of antizionist propaganda books. He hasn't found any surprising new facts to divulge. What's the point?

Is the author helping anyone by coming up with such a misleading attack on Israel? He isn't helping Israelis or Arabs: he's merely giving them more reasons to fight. He's encouraging Arabs to kill Jews and encouraging Jews to defend themselves not only against Arabs but against antizionist lies. As for those of us who are far away from the area, he's not helping us either by trying to misinform us all. He didn't need to do this. Maybe he was fed up by his job and decided to do something really naughty instead.
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30 of 63 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Always beware of scholars who go far a field of their chosen area. This idea has no greater proof than Baylis Thomas's "How Israel was Won," which claims to be a "concise history of the Arab-Israeli Conflict." What is the author's approach? A psychologist by trade, he puts Israel, indeed the Jewish people on the couch and seeks to explain how their psychological problems are to blame for the whole conflict! Think I am joking? Just look at some of the highlights of this "work."
Thomas gives little attention to Palestinian and Arab violence against Israel. In his analysis of conflict after the 1948 War he focuses on Israeli operations into the Jordanian controlled West Bank and ignores the Arab's frequent violent invasions of Israeli territory and their targeting of innocent Jewish civilians. Similarly, in his analysis of the 1967 war, we are presented an unsupported and rather amateurish psychoanalysis of Egypt's President Nasser and of Israel, as though a nation could have a single consciousness, but no mention is made of Egypt's blockade of Israel's port in order to destroy the Israeli economy. Anyone whose read Oren's ground breaking work on the Six Day War will be wondering how such flimsy scholarship ever got published.
The author similarly discounts Israel's efforts at peace making, including its willingness to make peace from 1948-67 for the Arabs to accept its right to exist. Little attention is paid to Israel's offers to give up most or even all of the territory taken in 1967 in exchange for peace. Indeed, Thomas is so hell bent on painting Israel in an evil light that he simply glosses over Israel's decision to give up more than 2/3 of its territory in exchange for making peace with Egypt, a deal that might well be called unprecedented in recorded history for a victorious power seeking a settlement.
More bias is evident. Israel is described as "balking" at UN Resolution 242 which calls on Israel to exchange territory for peace. Slight problem of course - Israel voted for it and every single Arab state voted against it. Indeed, as mentioned above, Israel surrendered territory as soon as a single Arab country was willing to make peace. Of course for that heroic decision Sadat was vilified and eventually assassinated by his Arab brethren. The book continues in this vein throughout. Israel is blamed for the collapse of the Oslo Process, while no attention is paid to the Palestinians habit of denouncing violence in English, while at the same time continuing to send terrorists whom they lionize in Arabic. Indeed, to date Arafat has renounced violence and terrorism in three separate accords, only return to form and send suicide bombers when he thinks it will serve his political ends. Again, this for Thomas is at best a footnote and at worst seen as justifiable.
One of the most amazing things about this flimsy work is its almost complete dependence on secondary sources. It seems the author could not be bothered to look at many primary sources so the reader is left with a bunch of unsupported and undefended assertions without any evidence to back them up. Indeed, for those reviewers who like this book and defend its obvious bias as a "counter weight" to a perceived pro-Israel bias in publishing, just look at his bibliography. Pages after pages of anti-Israel work are there for any to read, from Noam Chomsky and Said on down. One wonders why it is people continue to maintain the myth that anti-Israel voices are so quiet. From this work and its bibliography it seems more like a blaring shout. Those looking to understand the conflict should look elsewhere. Oren's Six Day War would be a good start.
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28 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
They should have titled this book "HOW ISRAEL WAS STOLEN." Ive never seen so much False information before in my life. Stay away from this one folks
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38 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
Wow. As I began reading through this book, I started wondering to myself "why are all the facts just laid out there, stated blankly and coldly, without much supporting information or analysis as to why what occured happend?" How come the author makes statements that seem odd and can't say why the Israelis are making their moves the way they do? Only after reading some passeges relating to parts of Middle Eastern history I already knew very well did I realize what this author was trying to do. On many points I knew very well, he was wrong! He apparently has some anti-Israeli, anti-American, anti-west, bias.
Also, almost all the "atrocities" reported were done by Israelis. Arab Terrorist attacks targeting civillians were glossed over and portrayed as being mere defense of their "homeland". Almost all the problems were, in this author's view, caused by Israelis. He seemed to constantly refer to "arab sources" for his information on civillian deaths, resulting in the usual unsophisticatedly over-eager claims like "the entire village was destroyed by the Israeli air raid, resulting in 500 deaths". Anyone who knows about airpower circa 1972 knows that a dozen planes can't destroy a village and unless they were assembled in a stadium can't kill 500 people. Meanwhile, he seemed to discount Israeli reports on civillian casualties as mere"claims". The recent claims of a "massacre" in Jenin show just how reliable Arab claims of civillian casualties are, and how accurate Israeli ones are. Even the anti-Israeli UN backed off on that one once the facts were clear.
It's just this type of biased propaganda that I was hoping to avoid when I found this book. I'm sure the Jewish side of the story gets reported through the prisim of their beliefs too, but this is a clumsy, obvious piece of propaganda. It looks like the true story will be impossible to find due to peoples' preconceptions and biases. ...
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22 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Very good chronology of events but you could not get a more biased account from Arafat himself. I hear the author is a psychologist. I recomend that he sticks to his field.
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18 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is more of an antisemitic manifesto than a balanced record of events. Baylis makes impressive use of references but only those with anti-Israel sentiment. He calls Israeli military tactics "blitzkrieg" and describes the Israeli bombing of Iraqi nuclear weapons plants as "unnecessary". Does he still think it was unnecessary?...
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23 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you're interested in a one volume history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, you would be well served to look elsewhere. Thomas's entire book wreaks of bias and smacks of an agenda. He consistently portrays the Israeli Jews as an infestation and the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors as innocent victims. This is no exaggeration! Honestly, the Israeli Jews are guilty of committing acts of mass injustice and even atrocities against the Palestinians, so my review is no apologist's diatribe supporting radical Zionism. Having a view or opinion on this issue and it's history is no sin, but when those views and opinions are presented as gospel, that moves into the realm of bias. This is precisely what Thomas does.
Avoid if you are seeking an unbiased and objective viewpoint.
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21 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
"How Israel Was Won" is a poorly researched, heavily anti-Israel, myopic view into the realities of the creation of the Israeli state. The author is a psychologist who wrote and researched the the book in the context of a "professional writing group". The fact that he is not a historian is glaringly clear. The book is poorly ordered, poorly researched, and no effort whatsoever is made toward objectivity. He decries Israel as a violent imperialist nation, and champions the Palestinians and their dictator, Yasser Arafat as freedom fighters. This is one of those histories in which the author uses only the information that will prove their preconceived thesis, rather than allow the reader to view all the available information and decide for themselves. This is an irresponsible work which has the potential to confuse and exacerbate, rather than educate and illuminate. Those readers who wish to learn more about the creation of Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would do well to look elsewhere. I reccomend books by Howard Sachar and "O Jerusalem" by Larry Collins. For those who wish to witness the left wing obsession with finding and defending any people they believe are disenfranchised, this book will help. So will any book on the subject by Noam Chomsky. I wish authors of histories on subjects of this considerable importance and pitched emotion would hold themselves accountable for disseminating information in a responsible, objective way. Baylis Thomas has not.
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