Customer Reviews: The Arab-Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East from the War of Independence through Lebanon
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on December 23, 1999
This book is a concise summary of the military actions that make up the Arab-Israeli wars up until the mid 1980s. Herzog has written a well researched and balanced account of what the military strategists were thinking, what men and equipment they had, and how their plans played out in real life. Only the minimum of political and diplomatic overview is given, this book is primarily about generals, tanks and airplanes, and unit combat. If you are interested in the nuts and bolts of how the wars were fought, this is the book for you. Wargamers and those seriously interested in the "hows" of warfighting would have to dig very long and deep to come up with this books detailed descriptions of units and outcomes.
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on February 28, 2000
The author sketches the army attacks by giving the precise locations and the minute details of the troops, which may be boring for the people who wanted the essence of those attacks. But still the author has to be appreciated for the pain he took to explain each and every detail. I have never read any article, which explains in detail of the Entebbe attack, which the best commando attack in the last century. For that itself, this book is worth reading.
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on July 16, 2001
I have read Mr Herzog's book at least 10 times and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to gain a solid understanding of the Arab-Israeli Wars. The author explains many of the behind the scene wranglings, misconceptions and intelligence gaffes that affected the outcome of each conflict. Highly recommended!
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on October 23, 2001
I knew nothing about Israeli history prior to reading this book and this book gave a very thorough account of the birth of Israel and the subsequent wars Israel had to fight against the Arabs for the country's very survival.
Although the book at times goes into excrutiating detail about the military battles, it was definetly worth the read. Some of the battle accounts are filled with hair-raising acts of courage and determination in the face of great odds.
The only downside - the book is more focused on the military facts than the politics and personalities involved - it left me wanting more information regarding the lives & history of the people involved. Also, the book stops in 1982, so if you are curious on what's been happening in the last 20 years, you won't get it here.
Overall, very good book and you will gain a thorough insight into
the Arab-Israeli wars.
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VINE VOICEon July 24, 2001
The greatest compliment that can be paid to this book is that both arabs and Israeli scholars consider it a reasonably authoritiative text. That is even more amazing, given that Herzog was the President of Israel.
The text is very readble, though it sometimes gets bogged down in very minor detail. That said, Herzog brings the story to life by introducing us to many of the front line commanders whose decisions often dramatically effected the tide of battle.
In many ways, the history of the modern middle east is written by wars. This book provides a wonderful introduction to a most important aspect of this area of study.
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on November 21, 2002
This excellent study is written by Chaim Herzog, who has been personally involved, in one way or another, in every war involving Israel during the time period covered, since joining the Haganah as a teenager.
He further served as a Major General in the Israeli Army and as the country's Ambassador to the UN, and last but not least held the position of Israeli President.
Covering all the Arab-Israeli conflicts in one volume is a remarkable achievement. Many of the principal figures on both sides of these wars & the UN have been interviewed for their own views and accounts in connection with this very objective publication.
The book delves back into the archives surrounding the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the promises made by the British and the International Community to both the Jewish people and also to the region's Arabs. In so doing and extending this principle to the other conflcits, Chaim Herzog provides a valuable context/understanding to the origins of the subsequent wars.
He also remarks on the UN General Assembly vote in 1947, which voted 33-13 (with 10 abstentions) in favour of partitioning `Palestine' west of the Jordan River into two states, one Jewish & one Arab, with Jerusalem as an internationally administered area. The reactions of both sides are studied and the consequent invasion of Israel by six Arab countries, (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon), beginning Israel's War of Independence.
The latter war is covered in some depth, as indeed are the much ignored Sinai Campaign of 1956, the Six Day War of 1967, the `War of Attrition', the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the `War Against Terrorism of that era' including the Entebbe incident and finally the `Operation Peace For Galilee' in Lebanon around 1982.
(My copy of this book was published in 1984, so any reference to the Palestinian `intifadas' of more recent times is obviously missing.)
The experiences learnt in all of these conflicts is also discussed from both an Israeli and Arab perspective, as is the conflict with the PLO.
All these conflicts are covered in commendable detail in just one volume, making this quite an extraordinary book and a very valuable reference on the turbulent history of the Jewish state.
Might I also recommend another book by Chaim Herzog entitled, "The War Of Atonement", which is solely devoted to the 1973 Yom Kippur War. An excellent work by this author in it's own right.
Other recommended titles are Michael Oren's "Six Days Of War" which covers the 1967 conflict & "Operation Peace For Galilee" by Richard Gabriel which covers the Israeli-PLO war in Lebanon. All three of these additional books are highly recommended and cover the issues in considerable depth.
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on May 19, 2000
Chaim Herzog's history of the Arab/Israeli conflicts from 1946-1982 is a first rate book. Although the book can get a tad confusing with his specific detailing of troop movements and locations, it is an engrossing history of how the Israeli armies were able time and time again to stop Arab invasions and propel the Israeli military into prominence. If you can get past the minute detail of every unit going here and there, or if you're into that kind of stuff, you will enjoy this book
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on October 13, 1998
Chaim Herzog, a former Isreali president is suprisingly impartial in his detailed analysis of the Arab Isreali wars. His descriptions of battles and strategies are at times confusing for someone without a military background but it is an interesting read throughout and Herzog sheds a lot of light on the cause and effect of each war including the Palestinian problem.It includes moving accounts of extreme bravery and self sacrifice in battle and saddening accounts of the trajedy of war. You do not have to be a history or military scholar to enjoy this book. I would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the turbulent history of Middle Eastern affairs.
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on December 21, 2015
A very comprehensive one volume work on Israel's wars of defense against Arab efforts to drive the Jews into the sea from the 1948 War of Independence until the 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee when Israeli forces pushed into Lebanon to flush out the PLO terror network. But the author makes it clear that the war really began with Arab pogroms against Jews in Palestine in the 1920, therefore this conflict is now nearly a century old.
This concentrates on the military aspects but still contains valuable incites on the political and social criterion.
Brief descriptions of the heroes who fought to defend Israel from annihilation.'
In the Book on the War of Independence the author highlights how the British payed quite an extensive role in the war on the Arab's side, Even after the British pullout towards the end of the war British military aircraft's attacked Israel to aid the Egyptians and most were swiftly shot down by Israel;s valiant pilots.
The Arab armies that attacked Israel included the Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis , The Arab Legion from Transjordan commanded by British officer Lieutenant-General John Glubb, and tow Arab terrorist groups, Fawzi al Kaujki's Arab Liberation Army
and Mufti Haj Amin al Husseini's Army of Salvation. These two terror armies included British deserters who had formed the British Fascist Army, Nazi German expatriates who had served in the Wehrmacht and SS, Yugoslav Muslims who served in the SS Hanjar divisions, and Croats from Ustasha.
In the Chapter of the Six Day War the author explains the facts behind the much publicized accidental attack on the SS Liberty by Israeli forces explaining it was clearly unknown this vessel was american and that given the relations between the USA and Israel at the time the Israelis would have no reason to attack the ship. Fault lies squarely with the American authorities who saw fit to position a spy ship against a friendly nation in a time of war with no information given to the Israeli authorities.
From 1955 onwards with the so called 'Czech Agreement' where the Soviets signed a deal to supply Egypt with massive arms shipments, the Soviets had played a large role in the Middle East conflict as a malignant force that actually several times pressured the Arab states to reject compromise and egged them on to war in both the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War
soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev practically forced Algeria to join in the attack on Israel while urging several other Arab countries to join their Arab 'brothers' in attacking Israel. Without Soviet influence Egypt would liely have signed a peace deal with Israel much sooner as may have several other Arab states.
In the Chapter on the Yom Kippur War the author draws our attention to the Battle of Latakia, fought between the Israelis and Egyptians, being the first naval missile battle in history

What is invaluable in this book is the chapter on Israel's daring rescue at Entebbe operation in 1976 after PFLP terrorists hijacked an Air France plane to Uganda where they released the other passengers but kept all Jewish passengers hostage. There was certainly something obscene 31 years after the Holocaust about Germans shouting orders at Jewish hostages and waving guns over their heads, while engaging in 'selektzia' - selection of the prisoners of terror, with all those with Israeli names ordered into a different section of the building.
The Arab terrorists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were were led by a German man and woman from the Marxist German terrorist group the Baader Meinhof Gang. Their behaviuor reminded at least one hostage, himself bearing tattooed numbers from a concentration camp of Nazis.. A comprehensive Chapter also on Operation Peace in Galilee in 1982. We learn something on the Lebanese Civil War started by the PLO in 1975.
Thankfully the author here mentions the 1976 massacre by the PLO of the Christian town of Damour in which thousands of innocent men, women and children were slaughtered. by PLO terrorists
many more innocents were murdered in this massacre, than in the raids by the Phalangists into Sabra and Shatilla.
Of the 460 Muslims killed in Sabra and Shatilla, only 35 were women and children.
425 where men, terrorist combatants, 300 of them Palestinians and 100 of them Muslim Lebanese, the remainder being terrorist volunteers such as Iranians, Syrians and Algerians.
Far less innocents died here then in Damour.
And yet Damour is forgotten, while Sabra and Shatilla are forever hyped up to this day.
In essence the raids into Sabra and Shatilla by the Lebanese Christians were a kind of long awaited retribution for the years of living and being subjected to genocide, under the ruthless yolk of the PLO.

Because of the military and battle detail Perfect for military historians and war gamers.
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on June 29, 2013
This book provides a good overview of Israel's military history since the War of Independence in 1948. Like other reviewers, I found this book a little detail heavy on a few points. It is clear that Chaim Herzog was interested in military history. He is at pains to detail which units do what, who commanded what, etc. The result is thorough, but a little terse.

Herzog is also clearly a soldier, someone who respects courage regardless of whether it is shown by a Jew or an Arab, and he goes out of his way to acknowledge it.

Before you pick this book up, acknowledge the obvious: this book is written by a former Israeli president. If you cannot tolerate a pro-Israeli perspective, then don't bother reading it. I suspect many of the low-star reviews reflect political axes rather than thoughtful criticisms of the content of the book. That's not to say there is no basis for criticizing the book on political grounds, but it should at least be acknowledged that Herzog does discuss some of the more unappealing events in Israeli history, such as the massacres and terrorist attacks by the Irgun and other rogue groups.

The early chapters of the book, detailing the War of Independence, are especially good. The U.N. agreed to partition Palestine in 1947, as the British mandate came to a close. The Arabs refused to even consider partition and swore to push them "into the sea." Three years after the holocaust, mind you. A devastating war was fought in which Israel lost 1 percent of its population, but managed to hang on. The Arabs, and especially Gamal Abdul Nasser, were intransigent and did everything they could to bring about the destruction of Israel. The situation remained precarious right up to the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1979.

The sections that are part of the updated edition show a very different style than the early sections. There is less emphasis on military history and more on politics. But the politics are very cursory and can easily be gleaned from other sources.
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