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Israel: A History Paperback – September 23, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Gilbert's impassioned history adds immeasurably to our understanding of the forces that have shaped contemporary Israel. Digging up a wealth of primary source material and quoting liberally from letters, memoirs, eyewitness accounts, interviews, memoranda and diaries of David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Abba Eban, Shimon Peres, Teddy Kollek and dozens of ordinary people, the eminent British historian (The Holocaust) has produced a gripping epic. Gilbert's extensive behind-the-scenes and on-the-battlefield coverage of Israel's numerous wars with its Arab neighbors adds much new detail. While the narrative focuses predominantly on politics, high-level diplomacy and war, it also illuminates other topics, including the Jewish settlement of Palestine in the early years of this century, tensions between secularists and Orthodox Jews, Israeli military intelligence operations, the current impasse in negotiations with Palestinian Arabs and the ferment of Israeli society, which Gilbert portrays as a diverse mixture of immigrant peoples that embody many different strands of Judaism yet are united by Israeli culture. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
From Churchill's official biographer: a 50th-anniversary history of Israel.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Make no mistake about it though, the author is pro-Labour and secular Jew, and at best not sympathetic to Likud or the religious Jews. My impression was that his vantage point was standing next to Ben-Gurion and Rabin, while Begin, Netanyahu and the religious Jews were over yonder, almost intruders.
He is very even with the Ashkenazi and Sephardi divide. Great book.
He graphically depicts the ugliness of the refugee movements (p. 218, etc).
He talks about Israeli looting (p. 220) and the States efforts to stamp it out.
He describes some solid military justifications for forcibly evacuating Arab villages (p. 177, and others).
He reveals the Israeli decisions to appropriate the land of Arab refugees for Jewish settlement(p. 256, etc), Jewish opposition to such measures (same page) and the enormous population pressure of incoming Jewish refugees which made such measures critical (p. 261, among others).
He documents the internal conflicts of the new State, including those within its divided armed forces (p. 211, and others). He shows self-serving division among Israel's Arab neighbors (pp. 241-242, etc).
He chronicles United States support for Israel (p. 445, 460) but also many occasions in which the United States pressured Israel on various issues, including withdrawing from occupied areas and accepting Arab refugees. (pp. 232, 255, 414, 457, 458).
None of the page lists is exhaustive, merely representative.
Gilbert glosses over nothing. He shows both sides of every question. He never tacitly accepts a simple solution to, or explanation for, a complex problem.
It is my opinion, having read the book, that any perception of favoritism toward Israel is actually an uncomfortable awareness (based on well-documented facts) that Israel, for all its mistakes, has been the victim of ingrained hatred and constant aggression, and that her successes have ultimately been the result of the dedication and brilliance of her own people.
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