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Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide Hardcover – June 23, 2015
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“Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, has written the smartest and juiciest diplomatic memoir that I’ve read in years, and I’ve read my share. The book, called Ally, has the added virtues of being politically relevant and historically important. This has the Obama administration—which doesn’t come out looking too good in Mr. Oren’s account—in an epic snit. . . . [Oren’s] memoir is the best contribution yet to a growing literature—from Vali Nasr’s Dispensable Nation to Leon Panetta’s Worthy Fights—describing how foreign policy is made in the Age of Obama: lofty in its pronouncements and rich in its self-regard, but incompetent in its execution and dismal in its results. Good for Mr. Oren for providing such comprehensive evidence of the facts as he lived them.”—Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal
“Illuminating . . . Oren was by no means Netanyahu’s most truculent adviser, but his personal odyssey exemplifies the shift from a liberal and secular Zionism to a more belligerent nationalism.”—The New York Times
“Unlike other diplomatic memoirs, which rarely disclose anything controversial, Oren’s Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide is provocative, as the former ambassador blames President Barack Obama for the sorry state of U.S.-Israel relations and much else that’s wrong in the Middle East today. . . . Oren’s book offers a view into the deep rifts that have opened not only between Washington and Jerusalem, but also between Israeli and American Jews.”—Newsweek
“A book full of penetrating insights . . . [Oren’s] beguiling, surprisingly frank memoir not only gives us the reality of what achieving his dream entailed, but tells us what he went through in order to get there. . . . It is the product not only of Mr. Oren’s challenging ambassadorial tenure in Washington but of a life well lived as an Israeli and as an American, a combination which makes him one of the most uniquely qualified judges of this ever more crucial special relationship.”—The Washington Times
“Oren has written the diplomatic equivalent of a ‘kiss-and-tell’ memoir, chronicling his years as Israel’s ambassador. . . . It is less sensational than the parts cherry-picked before publication. Yet it is informative and in parts entertaining. . . . The book is a useful account, if partial and partisan, of a unique time in US-Israeli relations, in which officials of both are criticizing each other with increasing bluntness.”—Financial Times
“The talk of Washington and Jerusalem . . . I’m not sure that in the annals of diplomatic history there’s ever been anything quite like this astonishing account of Oren’s four years as Israel’s ambassador in Washington. It’s an ultimate insider’s story told while all the players save Oren are still in place.”—New York Post
“Ally is an important read for those seeking to understand the complexities of the American-Israeli alliance. Unlike his previous two books, which were written from the perspective of an historian and became New York Times bestsellers, former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s latest book is based on his own personal experiences, perceptions and interactions with President Obama and the administration.”—The Huffington Post
“An irreplaceable trove of insight into what will one day be seen as a momentous historical turn . . . an insider’s account of the dramatic change of America’s behind-the-scenes policy toward the Iranian regime . . . Without ever slipping into hyperbole, the book’s measured narrative seems to confirm a lot of what the administration’s critics have been accusing it of: enabling the Iranian regime rather than really trying to stop it, while putting a vice grip on the increasingly alarmed Israelis.”—The Forward
“[A] revealing new memoir . . . a carefully recalled, detailed and riveting first-hand account of how the Washington-Jerusalem ties have unraveled—undone by mistrust, mistakes, and missed opportunities . . . The cumulative effect is profound—a steady drumbeat of behind-the-scenes examples of diplomatic dissonance. . . . Adding to the impact is the fact that Oren is neither polemicist nor political partisan.”—The Jewish Week
“I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book quite as eye-opening as Michael Oren’s Ally, the bestselling historian’s stunning new memoir of his four years as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. For what Oren has written is an account of serving as a diplomat during a Cold War—the Cold War the Obama administration launched against Israel upon coming to office. . . . Ally makes it nerve-jangingly clear just how difficult a job it has been for anyone to serve as a guardian of the special relationship between Israel and the United States.”—Commentary
“Astonishing . . . imbued with a sense of generosity, a sense that an American with an Israeli passport can genuinely love both countries deeply, even when those countries quarrel . . . The book gives us a blow-by-blow of a turbulent relationship between friends, with Oren at the heart of the drama. A big part of the book’s appeal is in its narrative texture—the late-night phone calls, the emergency meetings, the interrupted family trips, the tense summons at the State Department or White House, the strategy sessions at the embassy, and so on. It is Oren’s sharp storytelling mixed with his candid and insightful commentary that makes the book riveting.”—Jewish Journal
“[Oren’s] new memoir—an unprecedented case of a former public servant so quickly writing up sometimes intimate revelations on acutely sensitive core issues—does not describe an alliance. . . . Oren’s style is not excitable or melodramatic. In fact, he writes in a generally understated tone, with the measured sense of perspective you’d expect from a bestselling historian. So when he notes, as he does near the very end of the book, that last summer’s Israel-Hamas war left ‘aspects of the US-Israeli alliance in tatters,’ you take him seriously, and you worry.”—The Times of Israel
“Essential reading for anyone that cares about the Middle East and the special relationship between America and Israel. . . . Oren is a respected scholar. Accuracy is his coin, and he has long been considered a fair and centrist voice in a conversation with few of them. Perhaps that’s why the White House and its supporters are so worried—and why they’ve inadvertently driven the book to the top of the charts.”—NY1
“An amazing read. It is well-written—Oren is a historian—yet the book reads akin to a long-form daily newspaper, mixing politics, diplomacy, and current events. There is tremendous insight into the America-Israel relationship, and this is a must-read for anyone concerned about the State of Israel. . . . It’s a scary—yet seemingly realistic—observation from one of Israel’s highest profile representatives of the past few years.”—The Algemeiner
“Ally effectively assaults the Obama hyperbole that ‘I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office.’ . . . Precisely because the meticulous Oren is fair and understated, his indictment is devastating. That’s why the Obama Administration has reacted defensively and harshly to the book.”—FrontPage Mag
“Deft and pointed . . . The author proves a genuine, ardent advocate for the well-being of his beleaguered homeland and its ongoing alliance with the land of his birth. Even before its publication, Oren’s book has been attacked, based on culls of provocative pieces. Readers would do well to attend to the entire text of this fluent, important political memoir.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
About the Author
Michael B. Oren is an American-born Israeli historian and author, and was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013. He has written three New York Times bestsellers—Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide; Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present; and Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for history and the National Jewish Book Award. Throughout his illustrious career as a Middle East scholar, Dr. Oren has been a distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, a contributing editor to The New Republic, and a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown. The Forward named Oren one of the five most influential American Jews, and The Jerusalem Post listed him as one of the world’s ten most influential Jews. He currently lives with his family in Tel Aviv. He is a member of the Knesset and the Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Top customer reviews
Oren provides a unique perspective into the ambassadorship. He describes the duties of an ambassador in Washington DC and his role in advising and formulating policy, mediating between the Israeli government and the US, including counseling the best way to approach an issue with the other government. Given the difficult relations between Obama and Netanyahu, this was a challenge. He describes the several Obama-Netanyahu meetings (and the reactions that followed), as well as his take on US-Israeli disagreements over Iran.
The book provides insight into how policy is made. Oren gives his evaluations of US officials, and while his overall assessment of the Obama administration's approach to Israel is negative, he is very fair and gives credit where it is due.
The book is very readable (and would be enjoyable if it did not, perforce, detail unpleasant events and interactions), and will be interesting to anyone curious as to the formulation of policy and what goes on behind closed doors between two sovereign governments. The book represents his personal views, and he is candid about his politic opinions. As a historian and student of the history of the region, he is well-grounded in the background, and IMO his approach was quite balanced.