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Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle Paperback – September 7, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 382 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; Reprint edition (September 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446541478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446541473
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (382 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
Read more ›
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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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Format: Paperback
The book is an unabashed celebration of Israel`'s technical prowess, which the authors ascribe, to the hostile environment unique to the country.

Quite early in the book the authors credit the Israel Defense Forces - IDF, and the unconventional war they are engaged in, for fostering this culture of innovation. The central premise of the book, worked over and over again, is that the IDF is forced to innovate to overcome the political and geographical constraints, and in doing so fosters creativity which, coupled with the extensive networking opportunities during the service, makes Israel a hot-house of creative talent.

Having laid out the premise of IDF as an incubator of original ideas, the authors serve up numerous examples to support the proposition. Some of which are flawed!

There is no doubt that the IDF has a far greater influence on the society compared to other armed forces, yet it is hard to imagine that any institution can single-handedly foster entrepreneurial talent a country of. Surely there are cultural and societal factors; for example a society tolerant of failures, that nurtures creativity. If one considers that serving in the army is a rite of passage for all male Israelis, the link between the IDF and their achievements latter in life, would appear marginal!

On the whole the book is idolatry to the point that sections breach the line of objectivity and move into marketing territory. The description of how Paypal acquired fraud-detection software for example is different to how it is described in `Juice`. The description of replaceable-battery powered electric cars conceived by Better Place is another example.

The book provides interesting insights into the culture of innovation in Israel, but neglects objectivity, and with it, loses some of its credibility. It is a bit like reading a biography that turns out be hagiography.
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