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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300162308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300162301
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“There have been many hundreds of books for and against Israel but no volume presenting the essential information about its domestic politics, its society, as well as its cultural life and its economy. This gap has now been filled.”—Walter Laqueur, author of A History of Zionism
(Walter Laqueur)

"[An] essential resource for readers interested in learning the truth about the Zionist project in the 20th and 21st centuries."—Sol Stern, Commentary
(Sol Stern Commentary)

“Offering in-depth perspectives with encyclopedic breadth on the makeup of the Jewish state, focusing only briefly on Israel's struggle for self-preservation. The section "History" provides a masterful summary of Israel's past from its socialist beginnings before independence to the modern struggles with the Iranian regime. . . .”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

“A well-written portrait of a vibrant nation at the center of turmoil in the region.”—Jay Freeman, Booklist
(Jay Freeman Booklist)

"It is indeed just a starting point, but Israel: An Introduction, if disseminated among our universities to the extent it deserves, will at least allow students of the Middle East and of Jewish history to start off on the right foot. A glimpse into the real Israel may do more for the future of U.S.-Israeli relations than any amount of rhetoric ever could."—Daniel Perez, Jewish Voice New York
(Daniel Perez Jewish Voice New York)

About the Author

Barry Rubin is professor and director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel. He is also editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs and author of numerous books on the Middle East.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
It is unusual for a book so dense with information to be such a good read!
JMM
The book is thus most often a valuable corrective to mistaken views, and a treasure - trove of accurate information.
Shalom Freedman
A reader will come away with a great understanding of what it means to live in Israel.
baalteshuvah2002

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book aims to be an introductory guide for the general reader and a textbook for college students. Barry Rubin its editor and author of its first chapter claims that there is no single comprehensive volume that describes modern Israel. And this series of essays intends to do the job. In the impressive opening essay Rubin dispels many false notions about the Jewish people, their history and the whole story of the coming into being of Israel. First and perhaps above all he refutes the frequently repeated propaganda claim that Jews are exclusively a religious group. He briefly outlines the history of the Jewish people, showing that the collective and national component have been essential to Jewish identity throughout their history. Israel is not as many of its critics claim a colonial imperialist European imposition on the Middle East but rather the national project of the Jewish people who in returning to their homeland ingathered their scattered people and built a modern nation. Rubin is very good in describing the many obstacles Israel faced in state and nation- building and the achievement of creating a thriving albeit extremely threatened state. He speaks of the various strategies employed at different stages of Israel's history to meet the challenge of integrating people from so many different countries and building a modern economy.
In subsequent chapters the History, the Land and People, the Society, the Economy and the Culture are described. The presentations are factual and accurate but often have a superficial survey quality. What is sustained however throughout is an emphasis on the variety and richness of Israeli society and life, and how different it is from cliché views of it presented daily in the Western and world media.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Seminole3 on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent way to become acquainted with the nation of Israel. Chapters on its history, politics, people, the land itself, culture and social structure give a good overview of the country and make it much more understandable.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By JMM on March 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read the book a few months back in draft form, and was impressed by its breadth and depth, as others have remarked. Throughout, Rubin is evenhanded, stating facts plainly and letting them speak for themselves. Look particularly for his "topic sentences" (remember freshman English?), many of which are quite remarkably compact explanations of complex and seemingly diverse events. It is unusual for a book so dense with information to be such a good read!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By baalteshuvah2002 on July 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I became familiar with Prof. Rubin a couple of years ago, as I discovered at a seminar the breadth and depth of his knowledge and wisdom about Middle East politics, culture, etc. I did not then realize he was such a maven on all things Israeli. Being fairly knowledgeable about Israeli history, culture, religion, and politics, I expected the book to be a rehash of information I'd long-ago digested. To my delight, it was not. What I found was an absorbing, trenchant, understanding, and wise treatment of all facets of Israel, in a framework that I hadn't previously seen. The information is given directly; there is minimal subjectivity (no easy task since the author is obviously a proud Israeli Jew); and the reader never feels he is being force-fed. The book is a cornucopia of information and analysis, enough to educate an intelligent person without making his head swim. A reader will come away with a great understanding of what it means to live in Israel. (I echo the previous reviewer who decried the small type and surfeit of photos. Small points, though.)

I have since discovered Prof. Rubin to be a marvelous writer and invaluable source for understanding the Mid East in general. He's written numerous books on Israel's neighborhood, including Syria and Lebanon. I gobbled up one on Syria and came away with an appreciation of what has been going on for decades that the Western press never bothers with. He also penned a well-received biography of Arafat. I recently discovered Prof. Rubin's blog, which provides daily information nourishment and indispensable commentary/analysis (and accurate predictions, to boot). [...] In my opinion, no writer provides a better education in this crucial material. And he's a great lover and champion of America, too. Both countries, and even the Muslim world, would benefit greatly by his being appointed to an influential job in Romney's State Dept.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. H. van Raalten on March 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Barry Rubin is the authority on Israel and all the political events related to this country. Everybody with an opinion about Israel, positive, neutral or negative, should read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen on September 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to read a book about Israelis. Not entirely about the wars or diplomatic efforts. Mr. Rubin goes into detail about the history, society, government, economy, etc etc in a very nice way. It takes a relaxed approach to controversies which was a nice change of pace! Recommended!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ron Levy on October 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed Barry Rubin's essay work for a long time and was so motivated to pick up this book.

It is exactly what it says on the tin: an introduction to Israel. It is written in a clean, sparse, factual style and always relates back not to opinions, but to effects. For example, while going through one of the many cycles of attacks, reprisals, peacemaking attempts, and the inevitable double-cross, Rubin neither lingers nor complains nor unduly assigns fault. Instead, he relates it to the effect it had on the Israeli populace, mood, and vote. Why? Because this is an introduction to Israel, not a military history.

If you want a military history, use the appropriate chapters of this book as an outline of events to work from and then you can look up more detail on each one.

Otherwise, buy several copies so you have them on hand to give out to people who don't know the first thing about Israel but want to learn (which happened to me at a friend's church outing I was invited to). That's what I plan to do.
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