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1949: The First Israelis Reprint Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0805058963
ISBN-10: 0805058966
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

First published in 1986 in Israel, Tom Segev's book excited controversy by suggesting that the founders of the Jewish state courted war in 1948 by refusing to negotiate in good faith with Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. Segev cites, for instance, the argument of finance minister David Horowitz that the West Bank should be annexed not to Israel but to Jordan, because the West Bank would be a financial burden on any power that occupied it and Jordan might therefore become dependent on Israel for assistance--and thus easy to manipulate politically. Segev also explores the ideological disagreements among Israel's founders, some of which are being revisited today in the clash between religious and secular politicians. --Gregory McNamee

From Library Journal

Segev is a well-known Israeli journalist with a degree in history from Boston University. This book, a translation from the original Hebrew, recounts the events during the first year of Israeli independence. The book is divided into four parts: "Between Jews and Arabs"; "Between Veterans and Newcomers"; "Between the Orthodox and the Secular"; "Between the Vision and Reality." Based on unpublished official and personal records, it is an unsentimental and balanced view of life in Israel. It contains many new and often shocking revelations that will no doubt be upsetting to some. At the same time it is a highly interesting book of value to the general public and historians alike. Jehuda Reinharz, Near Eastern & Judaic Studies Dept., Brandeis Univ., Waltham, Mass.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Owl Books by Henry Holt and Company; Reprint edition (April 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805058966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805058963
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #776,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. H. Macy on August 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been searching for information around the 1949 magic carpet operation, since my parents were part of that operation. Tom Segev's book gives a very complete view of the events around the immigration, both politically and within Israel where they had the task of assimilating the new settlers. And there are tidbits in my parents letters home that sync up perfectly with what Tom is describing! I give kudos to Mr Segev for painting a realistic picture of the struggles of that time period, complete with all the warts! Tom Segev's book is far more comprehensive about 1949 events in Israel then any other reference I have found to date.
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By A Customer on December 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a really fantastic book and one of the few to really write about the times in a completely unbiased fashion. It manages to touch upon every aspect of Israeli life in 1949, from war, to immigration, to education, to corruption, to triumph.
In addition to accurate and detailed occurences and the events leading up to them, intimate details of both significant and little known players are discussed.
If you want to know what was really going on during that time and what the principals were thinking, read this book.
If you're sick of reading literature that is either Pro-Arab or Pro-Israeli, read this book.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps Segev's finest work next to One Palestine, Complete, 1949 chronicles the often messy business of building the Jewish state. From the conflict between Arabs and Israelis, the tensions between native born Israelis and immigrants, the battles between religious and secular Jews, and the spotty, sometimes faulty business of developing an "Israeli" identity, Segev provides a handy view of topics seldom (until recently) treated by Israeli historians. He does what American historians have known for sometime: the official historical version of a nation's development is often quite at odds to what actually occurred; or, in the case of the new Israeli historians, what can now be read in (recently opened) Israeli government documents. Unless you come to this book with a hard and fast agenda, it will be well worth your time to read and absorb its fascinating thesis and historical details.
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Format: Paperback
There are many reviews of this item. They freely inform the reader about the general features of this book, and I will not repeat them. Instead, I approach this book from an entirely different angle.

LOOTING: A COMMON OCCURRENCE

This subject has been brought to public attention by Jan T. Gross (especially his GOLDEN HARVEST) and a sympathetic media. Poles were widely portrayed as some sort of heartless and primitive people because, during and after the war, some of them had looted Jewish property.

In actuality, looting is an unremarkable phenomena, especially in times of war or other social upheaval, and it knows no specificity in terms of nationality. [For more on this, see the first Comment.]

Tom Segev, the author of this book, and an Israeli journalist-historian, takes the question of looting to a new level. That is what I focus on in this review. The information quoted below had been taken, by Segev, from official publications and archival data. (pp. 333-336).

1949-ERA JEWISH SOLDIERS AND CIVILIANS LOOT PALESTINIANS

The following statements are repeated directly from this book. Where necessary, I have provided explanatory comments [in brackets].

[Regarding Israeli soldiers stealing from an Arab dry goods store]: The company commander explained later that his experience in the occupied neighborhoods had taught him that in such cases it is impossible to control the men. (p. 68).

[A generalized phenomenon]: During the war and afterwards plundering and looting were very common. "The only thing that surprised me," said David Ben-Gurion at a Cabinet meeting, "and surprised me bitterly, was the discovery of such moral failings among us, which I had never suspected.
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Format: Paperback
The book tarnishes the glow of the romantic fairy tales about Israel's being founded by heroic pioneers who made an empty desert bloom. One does not have to be a complete cynic to believe that people of Arab descent in the territory from which Israel was carved were uprooted and driven from their homes or that there were significant conflicts among those who arrived from the diaspora to settle in the Jewish homeland. Myths however "needed" for psychological comfort make it more difficult to deal with today's problems and to find solutions.
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Format: Paperback
Tom Segev gives an honest account of Israel's first days. One develops a clear understanding of the many challenges (including defense, absorption of new immigrants, and a decent standard of living for all) that faced Israelis and their government. After reading this book, one cannot but appreciate the tremendous contribution of Ben-Gurion's pragmatic leadership in ensuring Israel's survival during this difficult period and in shaping Israel's future. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to gain an insight into the harsh realities of nation building. After reading this book, they will have a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices all made to make Israel a reality in 1948-1949.
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