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Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle Hardcover – November 4, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hampered by an Arab nation boycott that makes regional trade impossible and endowed with precious little by way of natural resources, Israel has beaten the odds to become a major player in the global business world, especially in the technology sector. With the highest number of startups per capita of any nation in the world and massive venture capital investment, Israel is one of the world's entrepreneurship hubs. Senor, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Singer (Confronting Jihad) track Israel's economic prowess using a number of factors, including the social networks and leadership training provided by Israel's mandatory military and reserve service, a culture of critique fostered by centuries of Jewish tradition and an open immigration policy for Jews that continually restocks Israel's population with motivated people from around the world—all of which foster a business climate in which risk is embraced and good ideas are given a chance to grow. The authors ground their analysis in case studies and interviews with some of Israel's most brilliant innovators to make this a rich and insightful read not just for business leaders and policy makers but for anyone curious about contemporary Israeli culture. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"There is a great deal for America to learn from the very impressive Israeli entrepreneurial model... START-UP NATION is a playbook for every CEO who wants to develop the next generation of corporate leaders."

Tom Brokaw, special correspondent for NBC News, and bestselling author of The Greatest Generation

"In the midst of the chaos of the Middle East, there's a remarkable story of innovation. START-UP NATION is... a timely book and a much-needed celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit."
Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay

"Senor and Singer's experience[s]...come to life in their illuminating, timely, and often surprising analysis."

George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC?s "This Week"

"No one else, in my judgment, has written regularly about Israel in recent years with more clarity than Singer."―William Kristol, Editor of The Weekly Standard

"An edifying, cogent report."


"A rich and insightful read."

Publishers Weekly

"Saul Singer's Confronting Jihad should be mandatory reading for anyone, layman or expert, interested in the real Middle East."―Michael Oren, historian and bestselling author of "Six Days of War"

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve (November 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044654146X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446541466
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (328 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Edward B. Roberts on November 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a serial entrepreneur, VC and angel investor, and teacher of entrepreneurship for many years, I am enthralled by "Startup Nation". It is a fascinating story of how Israel has succeeded disproportionately to its size and certainly to its geographic situation. It teaches valuable and unique lessons about region building and industry building. The principles of the country that stimulate individual entrepreneurial behavior in the military, in agriculture, and especially in high technology are lessons for all. I have shared the book with several leaders of industry and finance who have seen it as a remarkably interesting read.
Congratulations to the authors.

Edward Roberts
Professor of Management of Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management
Founder and Chair, MIT Entrepreneurship Center
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191 of 221 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on October 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There is a growing literature which speaks of the distinctiveness of Israel and its unique contribution to global culture. I think most recently of George Gilder's outstanding 'The Israel Test'. No doubt one impulse for the creation of such books has been the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel, as prelude to physically destroying it. Thus the very pro- Israel books come in a way as contributions to the justification of the Jewish state, and as defense of it. What is of course distressing about this, and the need for paeans to Israeli exceptionality is the fact that Israel is the only country in the world which is required to 'justify' its existence in this way.
In any case this present book focuses on Israel's scientific and even more technological achievements. It speaks about the Israeli reaction to the Arab boycott, and the special situation of 'confinement' Israelis feel at not having normal access to neighboring countries. Israel is a very small country physically and thus many have a certain claustrophobic sense , especially those youngsters who have served in the Army. After the Army many young people adventurously use their new - found freedom.
Two forms of this are the trekking Israelis do throughout distant regions of the world, with special emphasis on South America, and the India- Nepal region, and the 'tech-ing' Israelis do in creating start-ups at a rate all out of proportion to their numbers in the world. Israelis have hooked into high- tech communications and rode on the wave of a world economy which is increasingly electronic.
The start- ups too come in part because of an encouraging government policy, which devotes a high proportion of funds to research.
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77 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Coach K on November 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an enjoyable read that highlights how Israel has come to become such a leader in high tech startups. It is quick, light reading that explores the historical and cultural aspects that lead so many Israelis to pursue entrepreneurship.

In Israel, it seems, there is a culture that embraces the questioning of authority, a flat hierarchical structure across society, and risk seeking behavior. For those who have traveled to Israel, these notions will not be unfamiliar to you. Furthermore, the book explores how the contacts made during mandatory army service serve as valuable social networking tools later on.

The book was exactly was I was hoping for. It is written for the layperson, and did not read like an academic journal. While most books about Israel focus on its conflict with the Palestinians, this book only brought up politics and conflict as it pertained to the subject at hand, and didn't editorialize in the process. Furthermore, the multitude of stories and vignettes made it a engaging read that held my interest for the time I sat reading it.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ari Applbaum on January 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Beyond Clusters: Review of Dan Senor & Saul Singer, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle (Twelve, 2009).
Ari Applbaum
December 2009

I wrote my first business plan in high school. The two-page plan (perhaps an overstatement) was promptly filed and forgotten instead of pitched to investors. The concept of offering free internet access to attract an audience for highly targeted advertising was later "stolen" by California-based NetZero, a company once valued at three billion dollars. This type of Chutzpa, a teenager's audacity to think he could reinvent the way people connect to the Internet, is not uncommon in Israel.

But why? Why does Israel produce "more start-up companies than large, peaceful and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada and the United Kingdom?" Why is it that "after the United States, Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any other country in the world?" These are the questions Dan Senor and Saul Singer set out to answer in their short and intriguing book.

Senor and Singer begin by asserting that the answer "it's simple - Jews are smart, so it's no surprise that Israel is innovative" will not suffice as it "obscures more than it reveals". Instead they offer a thesis based on the Cluster Theory of Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. Porter's clusters are "geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, and associated institutions in a particular field,(1)" in Israel's case, high-tech. The closeness and interconnectedness of such institutions help foster innovation and economic growth. The authors demonstrate throughout the book how Israel serves as a cluster, if not The Cluster, of high-tech.
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