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For six tense days between June 5 and 10, 1967, war raged between Israel and its neighbors, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. There are many contexts in which this story makes sense, but only Michael Oren, a widely published American-born Israel scholar and historian, has so far knitted the diverse strands into a cohesive fabric that remains vital and relevant today. With educatedFor six tense days between June 5 and 10, 1967, war raged between Israel and its neighbors, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. There are many contexts in which this story makes sense, but only Michael Oren, a widely published American-born Israel scholar and historian, has so far knitted the diverse strands into a cohesive fabric that remains vital and relevant today. With educated authority and authorial integrity, Oren manages to sketch out facts and motives with the same intrigue as battles and strategies. Escalating territorial and populist tensions in the Middle East only serve to make this title more relevant. Anyone who wants to have a grasp of Middle Eastern politics or political tensions involving Israel must read this title. Six Days of War was a New York Times Bestseller and Washington Post Best Book Award Winner in 2002 and has gone on to be an internationally acclaimed bestseller. The book has been widely recognized as the definitive telling of the Six Day War. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael B. Oren is an American-born Israel scholar and historian. Oren has published numerous articles, books, and essays on the history and diplomatic affairs of the Middle East, and was appointed as Israeli Ambassador to the United States in 2009. Ambassador Oren has written extensively for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The New Republic, where he was a contributing editor. His two most recent books, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, were both New York Times bestsellers. They won the Los Angeles Times History Book of the Year prize, the Washington Post Best Book Award, a National Council of the Humanities Award, and the National Jewish Book Award. Raised in New Jersey, Ambassador Oren moved to Israel in the 1970s. He served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, in the paratroopers in the Lebanon War, a liaison with the U.S. Sixth Fleet during the Gulf War, and an IDF spokesman during the Second Lebanon War and the Gaza operation in January 2009. He acted as an Israeli Emissary to Jewish refuseniks in the Soviet Union, as an advisor to Israel's delegation to the United Nations, and as the government's director of Inter-Religious Affairs....

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six days of war june 1967 and the making of the modern middle east Reviews

  • Matt
    2018-10-24 17:21

    My actual, literal, fake-wood-and-screw bookshelf has two shelves devoted to unread books that I have accumulated, and continue to accumulate at a fantastic pace. (Thanks a lot, cheap white wine and Amazon’s one-click shopping!)The downside to my book hoarding is that it is used against me, every time my wife shows up in a new pair of shoes or boots or moccasins. Yes, moccasins. And whenever we get into an argument, she stands near the shelf with a sheath of matches. Cackling. (So, that might be an exaggeration). The upside to having a minor bookstore’s worth of never-perused material is that I’m often prepared when a sudden mood strikes. Instead of going to a library or signing into Amazon, I can just go to my bookshelf and – voila – instant gratification.Recently, spurred by current events, I got an itch to learn about Middle Eastern-Israeli relations. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for my wife, child, and anyone else who depends on my paycheck, I had several titles on hand, including Martin Gilbert’s massive Israel: A History. Feeling a bit less ambitious, I chose instead Six Days of War by Michael Oren, about the so-called Six Day War fought from June 5 to June 10, 1967. After all, the Middle East is a lot of history – bloody, tragic, comic-tragic – to swallow. I thought it best to start with only six days.The chronology of the war gives this book its framework. Oren starts with a series of contextual chapters: one chapter devoted to a sweeping overview of Israel and the Arabs; another chapter more tightly focused on the catalysts of the war; and a third given over to the unfortunate mechanics (a delayed telegram, a gambler’s gambit, and fear, fear, fear) that triggered open conflict. These opening chapters, especially the first, were the driest reading for me. And also the most confusing. I’m a bit of a newbie to Middle Eastern history, while Oren writes with an authoritative assurance that his readers have a bit of background knowledge. The names, especially, from all sides, were unfamiliar to me, and with the exception of a few men (Dayan, Nasser), the personalities never really popped off the page. Some of my confusion, of course, comes from the fact that this troubled area of the world is a complicated mess. The precipitant of the Six Day War was border incursions along the Syrian-Israeli frontier. Palestinian guerrillas used Syria as a base of operations. Israel accused them of harboring terrorists, etc. etc. Eventually, based on false reports that Israel was going to attack Syria, Egypt’s leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser moved troops into the Sinai and ejected the UN observers stationed there. He also closed the Straits of Tiran. I could attempt to relate more, but maybe it’s best if you just re-listened to Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire. It’s all there, more or less. Importantly, all these regional tensions played out against the backdrop of the Cold War. The USSR backed Syria and Egypt, while the US stood behind Israel. The little guys did their best to draw in the big guys, while the big guys did their best to rein in the little guys, while still giving them lots of guns to play with. Eventually, hemmed in on three sides (Syria to the north, Jordan to the west, Egypt to the south), and with no assurance of American help, Israel attacked. The first day of war (each day gets its own chapter) was decisive. The Israeli Air Force destroyed the Egyptian Air Force while it was on the ground, while her ground troops routed the Egyptians army under Abdel Amer (who lied about his defeat for so long that one has to wonder at his mental stability). Meanwhile, King Hussein of Jordan decided to enter the fray on Egypt’s behalf. Thinking this mostly a bluff, Israel gave him the chance to back off. Hussein did not. So Israel went on the offensive there as well, bagging Jerusalem in the process. Towards the end of the six days, with the west and south secure, Israel captured the Golan Heights – defended by Syria – for good measure. All this information is conveyed in what can only be termed drab, unadorned prose. There is precious little consideration given to illuminating characters, and a paucity of vivid, first-person accounts. The tactical aspects of the war is conveyed academically, as though this were a staff ride rather than a general history. Oren makes sure to tell you the movement of each battalion; he does not always make sure to explain why that mattered. There are maps, to be sure, and detailed maps. Unfortunately, each map tries to be everything at once, so there are arrows – each a different shade of black or gray – covering the page in an attempt to capture every movement during all six days. It should probably be noted that Michael Oren is now the Israeli Ambassador to the United States. I didn't detect any overt bias, other than the bias of fact (that Israel won, the Arabs lost). I’m sure that won’t matter to people with strong opinions. Those with a pro-Palestinian bent will find this volume a Zionist screed; those who are pro-Israeli hawks will undoubtedly conclude that Oren did not go far enough in lauding the IDF. The average reader, like me, will probably find very little in this understated and un-inflammatory work to get passionate about at all.The subtitle to Oren’s work is June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. That second part, the whole making of the Middle East, is mostly implied. Oren goes only cursorily into the nuts-and-bolts of the postwar echoes: new territorial boundaries; land for peace; settlements; Arab embarrassment; Israeli hubris; and the seeds of the Yom Kippur War. As an avowed history nut, there is a very real reason I mostly avoid reading about certain topics, such as Vietnam and the Middle East. The reason is this: history is a hobby. If I want to be stressed-out and anxious… well, I already am. History, then, is my escape. It’s soothing to slip into the a distant time period, such as the American Civil War. The stakes were just as high. The death just as real. The same passions that grip us now gripped us then. But every person there is a ghost. The Middle East is still an evolving, bloody, perhaps-intractable mess. It practically begs the removed observer to simply look away. With that said, the faults in Oren’s book may well be my own bias against the subject.

  • Joeji
    2018-10-31 15:20

    New review: Aug 09Since I have been spending the last year reading about Israel and Palestine, I may now class this book as shameless and apologetic when it comes to Israeli militarism. My review below is shameless in many ways and I'm a bit embarrased about it. Oren says he is givng everyone equal treatment, but how can you be Israeli embassador to the US and not be biased? This book supports Israel myths about itself and its military might and does little to acknowledge that the 1967 war was part of a catalyst of pain and suffering of the Palestinian people. With the Israeli silence surrounding criticism of their own history, you wonder what this "comprehensive book" left out and for what purpose. Old review: Though the author says that he sets out to provide an objective history of the Six Day War, there are two glowing descretions: He's Jewish and Israeli. And though, again, objectivity was the goal, why did I find myself, someone unsure of how he falls on the Jews for Israel scale, thinkng, "Woo! Way to go Israel!" in response to the military narrative. Yes, it is a good book, and it is probably as objective as possible, eliciting some sympathy for King Hussein and Nasser, while loathing/loving Moshe Dayan--that is, you get to see how it ran from the inside. You get to see read about the involvement of the USSR and USA (especially ambivalent) and Israel's plans for the Palestinians as it became apparent that they would end up with the West Bank and Gaza. Spoiler Alert!: The Israelis were wary of harming mosques on the way into East Jerusalem, handed the Dome of the Rock over to Muslim authorities ASAP, and wanted to make a federated Palestinian state autonomous to Israel. Of course, still not something that Yasser Arafat would accept; just not impossible enough. And there are always your people who think that the West Bank should be annexed and the Palestinians ousted, but thank goodness these people were on the Israeli margins in 1967. Israel is seen best as a thriving democracy, shown through its fractious cabinet, its loathing of the prime minister, and its fear of international sanction, while the fatal error of the Arab countries was their inability to estimate Israel as such. After the Egyptians lost their air force in the first few hours, it was reported on Cairo radio that the army was penetrating Israel and laying seige to Tel Aviv. Even Nasser was a victim of his own system; no one told him the truth until it was much too late. A fast read. Finished in less than a week.

  • Mahlon
    2018-10-26 20:34

    Michael B. Oren's Six Days of War is probably the most comprehensive book published on Israel's 1967 conflict with the Arab world to date. Painstakingly researched and scrupulously fair, Oren's strength is dealing with the causes and effects of the war. He discusses every diplomatic move and counter-move that the belligerent countries and their superpower allies (the U.S. and U. S. S. R.) made, and how those decisions impact Middle East policy to this day. Oren is noticeably weaker when discussing the actual tactics of the war, choosing to view the military units as pieces in a diplomatic chess game rather than giving the reader a sense of what the soldier on the ground was feeling, although he does do a fantastic job in describing the climactic battle for Jerusalem.Six Days is absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the politics of the region.

  • Eric
    2018-11-14 17:25

    This is a wonderfully concise, well-written history of the war between Israel and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan that lasted only six days in June 1967. The Arabs got pounded, and Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. The war, though won by Israel, also brought that country decades of additional strife that continues to this day. It also made the Arab nations more determined to wipe out the Jewish state.Oren has written a fair history, with all sides presented with no apparent bias or judgment. He gained access to previously undisclosed material, so he has records of internal meetings with all the political parties involved. And there are lots of them. The Middle East doesn't exist in a vacuum. Other nations have stuck their noses into the region. In this case, the Soviet Union sided with Egypt and Syria, but only to an extent, never daring to get involved in the actual fighting. The U.S. played a similar role with Israel, pledging undying support but no military involvement. So while outside actors did their best to shape events, the real fighting and dying were done by Israelis, Egyptians, Syrians, and Jordanians.It's true the Arab armies were routed, but they did fight hard, especially Jordan's troops in the West Bank and Syrian soldiers on the Golan. The Israelis could have easily conquered Cairo, Damascus, and Amman, but such actions would have had brought the Jewish state solid international condemnation, including from the United States. It must be very frustrating for Israel - its enemies fight for its destruction, and it cannot retaliate in kind. And somehow, the Israelis are considered the bad guys by many people.If you wish to gain a greater understanding of the Middle East, and find out why they still fight over there, reading this book would be a great start.

  • Dave
    2018-10-25 20:32

    Egyptian and Syrian military incompetence and the sense that Israel's back was against the wall; these were my impressions of the war as it was acted out. Ambassador Oren's narrative confirms those vague impressions, but he also provides the detail to flesh out the story. Nervous breakdown, fog of war, big-power politics and numerous other features are added to provide a clear picture of this uniquely short war that is still going on. With maps handy (I used MapQuest's terrain and satellite maps) it is an easy read that provides a full background, gives just enough operational detail and connects the events of June,1967 to the ongoing Arab-Israeli contest. I recommend it.

  • Jonfaith
    2018-11-01 19:23

    I read this in a flash a few years ago. It isn't a social history nor is it investigative. It yields a basis for an ideology. I accept that. I just read this review http://www.ussliberty.org/orenbook.htm and it upset my indifference. What can I say? I'm exhausted.

  • Steve Kettmann
    2018-10-23 18:38

    My review published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002:A necessary light'Six Days' goes far to help sort out Mideast conflict's tangled webReviewed by Steve KettmannSunday, July 28, 2002Six Days of War June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East By Michael B. Oren OXFORD; 446 PAGES; $30 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------It's a natural impulse to seek distance when confronted with a seemingly hopeless spiral of violence. That's what President Bush tried to do with Middle East diplomacy early in his administration. So much can go wrong. So little can go right. Why take chances? That's also true, morally and intellectually, for many other Americans, whose capacity for imaginative empathy has long since been eroded by the parade of horrors flashing on their television screens from Israel and the West Bank. Details are so hard to follow. Haunting images almost rule out comprehension. But a little context can go a long way in offering some insight -- especially for a general reader. There's much of that to be had in "Six Days of War," Israeli scholar Michael Oren's workmanlike, richly detailed study of the 1967 war that established Israel's reputation as a formidable military power. The book offers some much-needed relief from fatalism. If anything emerges with any clarity in reconsidering the details of what Israelis call "The Six Day War" and Arabs try not to call anything at all, it's the minute distance that can separate one course of events from another. Chance and the vicissitudes of human nature both played major roles in the stunning drama that unfolded in June 1967. Israel attacked Egypt with devastating success, eventually occupying all of Sinai, and humiliated both Jordan and Syria, moving into Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. "Capriciousness characterized the process leading to the outbreak of the war," Oren writes. "The last-minute cancellation of Operation Dawn -- Egypt's one chance to do to Israel what Israel would soon do to Egypt [that is: attack first] -- poignantly illustrated the process' randomness. "Yet even that chaos had its context. Only within the unique milieu of the Arab-Israeli conflict could elements as diverse as Syrian radicalism and Israeli politicking, inter-Arab rivalry and America's preoccupation with Vietnam, Soviet fears and Egyptian aspirations, combine in a chain reaction culminating in war." Oren, a military historian who earned his doctorate at Princeton, does better with straight narrative than with summing up what it all means. His analysis can have a tossed-salad feel to it. But here the point is clear enough, and it's important for anyone trying to come to terms with recent Middle East history. Looking back, it's easy to conjure an air of inevitability; what happened had to have happened. But that's often an illusion. June 1967 did not have to transpire the way it did -- and neither did July 2000. That was when Bill Clinton did his best to push Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat together at Camp David. Just how narrowly the effort failed may never be known, but the bracing insider account Oren offers here of 1967 vividly demonstrates how real events on the ground are often only poorly understood, either by contemporary observers, or by history. The human details are what linger longest. Oren dug into a variety of source material -- a long bibliography lists books in English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and Russian -- and found many tasty tidbits. Describing the buildup of tensions that preceded the war, and the at times bizarre events, he tells of the Egyptian press going big with a story about an Arab Legion defector named Capt. Rashid al-Hamarsha, who allegedly confessed to "masterminding subversion" in Syria. "Jordan dismissed al-Hamarsha as a Zionist spy, 'in liaison with an Israeli belly dancer named Aurora Galili or Furora Jelli,' and then produced its own deserter," he writes. The hapless U.N. leader U Thant, quick to withdraw his forces and create the conditions for war, puts off an emergency visit to Cairo for three critical days until "his horoscope said it was propitious for him to travel." Egypt's Gamal Abdul Nasser, the charismatic enigma at the center of the drama, greets Jordan's King Hussein for a key private meeting, and then summons Ahmad al-Shuqayri, the first PLO chairman, who was "wearing a rumpled Mao-style uniform and looking disoriented." Nasser informs Shuqayri that he's to leave for Jordan immediately with Hussein. "Then he turned to Hussein: 'If he gives you any trouble, throw him into one of your towers and rid me of him! ' " Later, after days of ludicrous Egyptian lies over the airwaves about Israeli forces being routed, its army slips into full, ignominious retreat -- in shocking, every-man-for-himself fashion. "Maj. Gen. Uthman Nassar, for example, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, told his officers that he had an urgent meeting in headquarters, packed up, and left," Oren tells us. "He was later seen frequenting cafes in Cairo." Soviet Ambassador Sergei Chuvakhin privately informs Abba Eban that his government has decided to sever relations with Israel, "then, to the foreign minister's astonishment, the Soviet ambassador burst into tears." Oren accomplishes much, much more here than bringing alive his important tale with the kind of texture so essential to avoid falling into a gray recitation of troop strengths, battle readiness or political backdrops. But as in "War and Peace," the dynamics of battle stand up on the page much more readily when the reader's capacity for surprise -- or wonder, or outrage -- has been coaxed into high alert. Most of all, by painting his portrait with such care and thoroughness, Oren reminds us of a basic fact: The question when it comes to Israel-Arab dynamics does not always have to be about being biased against one or the other, but rather about seeing how both sides have suffered and sacrificed, and both urgently deserve something other than endless iterations of warfare and conflict. Steve Kettmann has written for the New Republic, the New York Times and Salon.com.

  • Schoolplus
    2018-11-12 22:35

    This is a very interesting book about Israel-Arab war. Because our generation witnessed this war and not looking at it only in retrospect it is especially interesting for me. I still clearly remember all propaganda Soviets conducted at that time... I remeber wwhat was written at that time in Soviet newspapers and what was broadcasted...In a century I believe the military historians will compare this war with the most famous wars in all times. The book has a lot of not “everyone knows” details, and gives the info gotten from all possible sources and languages. It is a fascinating story (I mean six day war) written seriously and objectively.Recommended for all especially for those who is interested to know more facts about in Israeli-Arab conflict. Especially interesting in a view of a current Israel war with Palestinian terrorism. Especially interesting in a view of a current Israel war with Palestinian terrorism. In 1967 and 2009 wars Arabs were defeated completely and in both cases announced and celebrated the great victories

  • Omar Ali
    2018-11-01 17:19

    An excellent history of the 1967 war, this books is even more useful in its coverage of the months leading up to the war. While it is written from a pro-Israeli perspective, the facts are not cherry-picked or outright falsified (as is common in more ideological books, from both the Left and the Right). Every important detail (and some unimportant ones..the book is long) is covered and the bias is usually limited to careful word choice or perspective, and does not extend to misreporting the "hard facts". For example, the attack on the USS Liberty is presented accurately but it is clear that the order and tone in which the facts are presented is consciously meant to justify the Israeli story (which I personally think is likely to be close to the truth in any case, so there is always that).Of course the author believes Israel has every right to exist in that region, and his Arab (and increasingly, his Western SJW) critics start from the assumption that the attempt to create a Jewish state where Ottoman Palestine and its inhabitants already existed was illegal and immoral from the git go... If one starts from the second position then the significance and valence of the Arab and Israeli positions in the lead up to the war and the way one sees the war itself can become very different. But at the same time, those events themselves did take place more or less as described. The significance and moral valence are yours to judge.One laughs (or cries, it depends) at the yawning gap between the Arab leaders grandiose and extravagant claims and military moves in the months prior to the war (whether they meant any of it or not is almost besides the point; they probably did not, but they all said it, and they, especially the Egyptians, moved troops around as if they meant it) and the actual abilities of their tinpot regimes. The lower level Arab units were brave enough, but the senior echelons (except in the relatively competent Jordanian army) were sub-standard and the top leadership was criminally incompetent and utterly buffoonish. Whether Israel laid a trap and they fell into it, or it was a series of accidents and bad decisions, or something in between, the bare facts are brutal. Perhaps the best way to look at it is to note that the gap between the two cultures was just too great; the Arab buffoonery and grandstanding itself being just one manifestation of that tremendous cultural gap. And 15-20,000 ordinary soldiers and junior officers paid the ultimate penalty for it.The book includes extensive quotes from both Israeli and Arab sources and fully captures the flavor of the time and the participants hopes and expectations at each stage. The self-doubt and arguments within the Israeli leadership are interesting, but perhaps a bit overplayed in an attempt to counter those who say it was all a premeditated Israeli trap. These arguments will no doubt continue.It is fascinating to read what all the Arab leaders thought of each other..and how the "street" and their own delusions forced each country to join a "coalition" that was too united to avoid joint disaster and too disunited to do anything seriously coordinated...The way Egypt misled its own "ally" Jordan to sucker them into the war and how Syria lied to everyone from day one to day six are classics in the annals of useless alliances. There may be other examples like this somewhere in history, but offhand I cannot think of another example of a multi-national "coalition" as inept and self-defeating as this one.Of course, one cannot fail to be impressed by the chutzpah, initiative, courage and competence of Israel's citizen army. At the same time, their undoubtedly impressive performance was greatly enhanced by buffoonery and incompetence at the highest levels of the Egyptian and Syrian armies. The Egyptian army could well have stood and fought a much bloodier and longer battle in the Sinai if "Field Marshal" Amer had not ordered them into headlong retreat after he personally fell to pieces on the second day of the war. And the Syrian collapse in the Golan was no less dramatic (and also caused partly by the high command losing its nerve). But while the overall picture is well presented and ground level anecdotes are aplenty (and not just from the Israeli side, though naturally, Israeli exploits get more play), this is not a "military history" book. If you are into the kind of book that shows countless maps and arrows and individual units and their maneuvers, you will need to add another book to this one.Overall, well worth a read.PS: I mentioned to a friend about how celebrations broke out across the Arab world on the first day of the war, as the population imagined that the long promised "march to Tel Aviv" had begun (and as their own radio related tales of great victories). This friend reminded me that such demonstrations did not just happen in the Arab world, they also took place in far away Pakistan. He recalled that in his locality in Karachi, people came out on the streets and distributed sweets (no doubt having heard, as radio Cairo was claiming, that hundreds of Israeli planes had been downed and the Egyptian army was marching into Negev). By the second day, some of the better informed had figured out (presumably from listening to the BBC) that the Arabs were actually losing, but most people refused to believe them. By the third day, general depression had set in. I am sure this patterns was repeated across the Muslim world. https://youtu.be/pvisd4N3tZI

  • Jerome
    2018-10-27 16:35

    An engaging, comprehensive and balanced day-by-day history of the Six Day War that puts it into the context of the wider Cold War, with more of a focus on the war’s politics and diplomacy than the battles.Oren ably presents Nasser’s role in the lead-up to the war, describing his role in forcing the UN out of the Sinai and to illegally closing the Tiran strait to Israeli shipping, which amounted to an act of war by every observer. Oren then covers Israel’s search for an effective and legitimate military response and its efforts to bring both the US and the Soviets on board, and the dilemmas of the US, then involved in its own war in Vietnam, and the Israeli government, which was loath to risk losing US support. Oren then describes how Israel’s preemptive attack created a chain reaction that drew in Jordan and Syria and forced the Israelis to improvise on a daily basis, and how Nasser’s own officers were often unwilling to present him with the full picture, (at one point with Egyptian troops retreating and at the same time claiming to be advancing on Tel Aviv).Oren describes how Israel’s objectives evolved along with the situation and how its ultimate objective was always to eliminate the threat posed by the Arab armies, with very little discussion of occupying either Jerusalem or the West Bank, and how in spite of this the Israelis opened a front on the Syrian border for both military and political reasons, and how the decisions to take East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan were made arbitrarily and on the spot by commanders on the ground. Oren also argues that Israeli policies toward the Palestinians were largely reactive and contingent. Other times, it seems like Oren downplays Israel’s refusal to negotiate with Egypt or Syria, and he also seems to downplay Israel’s pre-war military activity (which he calls “activism” but what the Arab states saw as provocations) Some more discussion of these events would have helped. And contrary to what the title suggests, there is little on the war’s aftermath and impact: the displacement of the Palestinians gets only a single paragraph, for example (Oren refers to it as an “exodus” rather than expulsion) although Oren does cover the Palestinian guerrilla attacks. There is little on the Arab states’ postwar attempts to negotiate a settlement with Israel on the basis of an Israeli withdrawal from the captured territory. The coverage of the tactical level is a bit confusing, and there are also a few annoying typos.Still, a great history of the war, with strong coverage of the politics and strategy.

  • Hrishi
    2018-11-12 16:47

    This was a book I'd been meaning to read for a very long time, and one that sat on my (virtual) shelf for nearly two years. I'd bought it on a lark back then, and my expectations going into it now were that it would be a detailed, unbiased telling of the 1967 Middle Eastern conflict, and that it would live up to the subtitle and draw connections to contemporary personalities and events (from 2002, when it was published). I'd say it met those expectations for the most part as a narrative, but I'm left wanting more synthesis and insight from the author, Michael B Oren. (Who, interestingly enough, gave up his American citizenship to serve as Israel's ambassador to Washington. That the book is mostly objective, if not without bias and blind spots was a pleasant surprise to me therefore).This is a well researched book and weaves the palace intrigues as reported by various key political and military players with information gleaned from official records and first hand accounts from the field to give a blow by blow account of the war. It takes its time to establish the context of the war, which I appreciated given how dynamic the Middle East is/ was. The six days of action are also well narrated and I had little trouble if any with following the action, though I did digress several times to look up maps and Wikipedia entries on people, places, and events, as any good history buff should when reading. I just wish the author had been as careful in recounting the aftermath and that the book had elaborated on the thesis implied by that subtitle: the last chapter does a somewhat hurried job of this and disappoints a bit in by questioning whether or not this conflict on its own was as significant as suggested or not! I felt a bit cheated!Taking a step back, reading this book did help me understand the region better, and I (again) found it remarkable how the more things change, the more they remain the same - or if you'll forgive another cliché, how history repeats itself. 1967 had a militant Assad, a belligerent Israel, an indecisive but meddling America, an aggrieved Palestine, an Egypt in turmoil, a Jordan caught in the middle... sounds familiar? Well, except there's no more USSR...It's also quite a depressing read in a way, because you can't help but feel that way as you realize how messed up that hoary region's history is, and how deep the grievances behind the Israel/ Palestine issue really run. A worthwhile read in the end, if you're a history buff!

  • Philipp
    2018-11-15 16:29

    Prior to my work on the 1967 war, I believed the politics in the Middle East—as elsewhere in the world—were the product of rational decision making, a reflection of cogent analyses on the part of Arab and Israeli leaders. Today I know differently. Of all the insights I gleaned from my research—the extent of Egyptian war planning, for example, or the depth of Israeli fears—none altered my thinking more than the realization that politics in the Middle East are, more often than not, random and unpredictable, arbitrary in their course and potentially explosive in their outcome.This quote is from an interview in the appendix of my edition, an interview with the author, but it summarises the book well - a relatively even-handed description what went down before, during, and after the Six-Day War which arguably shaped the Middle East into the form it is today. It's a great read - lots and lots of dialogues taken from the archives, great if you're into politics or large scale plans:The Big Lie had boomeranged. Instead of prodding the Soviets to come to the Arabs’ assistance, it impelled them to pursue a cease-fire. The Arabs, in turn, were incensed. By the third day of the war, Nasser was not only talking in terms of Western collaboration with Israel, but of an implicit Soviet-American understanding not to come to blows in the Middle East. For the Soviets, the only way out of this vicious circle was to ignore the Arab dimension for now, and focus their attention on Israel. The only little criticism is that while Oren extensively uses archives to summarise what the Arab nations, Israel and the US were doing, there's very little detail on what the Soviet Union was doing behind the scenes. That would have been interesting. Anyway, if you want a concise, very readable and interesting summary of what went down you can't go wrong with this one.

  • Simon Wood
    2018-11-15 17:18

    CHERISHED ZIONIST MYTHS GET A VENEER OF RESPECTABILITY Michael Oren (between bouts in the Israeli Defence Forces disseminating the Israeli point of view for the media) has apparently written this majesterial and impartial history of the 1967 war. By strange coincidence it more or less absolves the Israelis from starting the war. Apparently they werent even interested in seizing territories it just kinda happened!Having almost as many footnotes as Joan Peters ground breaking "From Time Immemorial" (ground breaking in the sense that Peters probably wished the ground would open up and swallow her after it was exposed as a fraud) Orens book has a veneer of academic respectability that is only slightly more plausible than Peters infamous fantasy. The author constantly selects the evidence to fit into his account of the war and ignores evidence that does not fit into his schema.It is hardly suprising that a book such as this has been written by an admirer of Ariel Sharon, who went on to become Israels ambassador in Washington; what is a little surprising is the wide spread acclaim for this book by people who ought to know better.A far better history of the 1967 war is Jeremy Bowens "Six Days: How the 1967 War Shaped the Middle East" which gives a better picture of the reality of that war rather than the pseudo propaganda that Oren has manufactured.Avoid, or at any rate read it metaphorically holding your nose.

  • Michael Gerald
    2018-10-25 19:25

    I once wondered how Israel could have survived and even won wars against its belligerent Arab neighbors. When I read this book, it became clearer.Israel won not just because of its sense of systemic vulnerability, its discipline, and technological superiority; it won also because of its enemies' incompetence and divisiveness. They may have been superior in numbers, but they were so arrogant, divided, and disingenuous that one wonders if they were really determined to defeat Israel or just screw each other.For example, after Israel launched its devastating first strike against the Egyptian Air Force that almost wiped out the latter, Egypt still announced to its allies Jordan and Syria the opposite: that it was the Egyptians who wiped out the Israeli Air Force and were driving through Israel into Tel Aviv! That, and their other lies, would eventually lead to more disaster for them all. The Six Day War could also be called the Egyptian-Jordanian-Syrian-Screw each other War.

  • Dean Dalton
    2018-11-14 16:31

    Shameful propaganda by an Zionist Israeli politician masquerading as a historian. There are too many faults and ommisions to list but a few points will suffice. Central to Oren's skewed history is that Russian warnings to Egypt of an Israeli attack on Syria are responsible for the Egyptian build up in the Sinai and thus for provoking Israel into launching a pre-emptive attack. Oren does not seem to understand that Israel were actually planning an attack on Syria and thus provoked the Egyptian build up in the Sinai by Nasser, who was compelled to defend his Syrian allies. Also shamefully one-sided is Oren's account of Israeli-Syrian relations pre-1967. He seems only to recall Syrian attacks and not the more numerous Israeli attacks and provocations. Predictably Oren goes along with the usual narrative of the 6-day war being a miraculous victory against all odds, but this is far from the truth. Israeli intelligence estimated that the war would be won in 3-4 days, while the U.S. intelligence believed it would take little over a week so it was far from miraculous. In fact it was the expected and likely outcome given Israels far superior weaponry, training, and organisation. This is Israeli State propaganda written by a member of Israeli Kulanu party and former Israeli ambassador to the United States: in other words this book is utterly worthless

  • Sourojit Das
    2018-10-24 19:32

    One of the more readable tracts on the Israeli offensive. It has a solid socio-political framework fleshed out with authentic military insights into the epitome of Israeli military prowess.

  • K
    2018-10-20 20:19

    Five stars with a caveat -- you have to really, really want to learn about the Six Day War in order to get through this book without succumbing to the temptation to skim or abandon it. It's an impressive work, no question, and highly educational. If I wanted to write a dissertation on the Six Day War in particular, or even on Israeli history in general, I would probably view this book as a godsend. As a mere layperson with an average level of curiosity, I found it a bit overwhelming. It was readable and interesting, but quite dense and detail-heavy. I'm not sorry I pushed my way through, but I only suggest attempting it if you're very committed to the topic.

  • Patrick Belair
    2018-11-01 23:41

    I, think that Michael B. Oren has created a classic in the story on the Six Days War that will be very hard to beat.With first hand interviews from all sides involved. It is a must read for all modern middle east studies.

  • Mike
    2018-11-14 23:23

    Reads like an action novel but it's all true. The best history of the six-day war I have read. Covers all the major players and conflicting motivations. Outstanding.

  • Justin Tapp
    2018-11-05 23:42

    I read this book after reading Ari Shavit's My Promised Land and Abuelaish's I Shall Not Hate, as well as Paul Johnson's A History of the Jews. 1967 seems to be such a pivotal moment both in Israeli and Arab psyche and had wider implications in the perspective of the Cold War. I agree with those who call "lazy" the pundits who claim the rise of Islamic fundamentalism finds its roots in the disappointment of 1967. As usual, reality is more complicated than that. One resource website I found while writing this review is www.sixdaywar.org, a good place to go for the quick Israeli-leaning narrative; Oren's work simply adds the military and political details and personalities. It's one of the highest-rated books I've read on any topic, especially one as widely covered as the Six Day War.I'm 36, and it's not uncommon to hear people younger than me (and maybe some older) think gloom and doom about the world today, particularly the situation in the Middle East. "What has the world come to?" "Surely this is the end times." Nuclear Iran, ISIL in Iraq and Syria, Syrian civil war, Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Saudi and Iranian proxy war in Yemen, etc. But let's examine 1967:The world divided between communism and markets, both armed with nuclear weapons and just a few years away from various almost blowing up the world. America in the midst of a liberal social revolution while being increasingly mired in its own proxy war called Vietnam. Every nation surrounding Israel refusing to recognize any right to existence, armed and eager to invade. Much more of the world in poverty and under despotism than today.The first half of the book is the long spring build-up to the 1967 war, which is dominated by actions by Abdul Nasser's Egypt. We forget (or are ignorant) today that Haffez Al Assad and Nasser forged an alliance unifying Egypt and Syria into one nation. Egypt had been fighting battles in Yemen. The Arab League was bent mostly on the destruction of Israel and if they had dreams of a pan-Arab region it was always at risk from internal squabbles. Nasser held contempt for Jordan after Jordanian troops refused to help his battalion, leading to a glorious defeat and his elevation as a national hero. Nasser held Jordan's King Hussein in disdain, and Jordan seriously feared (as Nasser threatened) Egyptian troops pushing through Israel straight into Amman. Hussein had already survived multiple coup attempts he saw Nasser's hand behind.Oren does a good job helping the reader feel the building tension. The Israelis were genuinely concerned about being wiped off the map by the overwhelming 500,000-strong Arab force, and Prime Minister / Defense Minister Levi Eshkol walked a fine line between hawks calling for pre-emptive strikes and a desire for Western support by not being the belligerent. The Jewish diaspora held protest rallies at universities and raised funds and other support for the besieged country, increasingly cut off from trade after the Egyptians blockaded the Straits of Tiran. Meanwhile, the Soviets helped the Syrians design a battle plan (shades of 2014-2015) and were eagerly shadowing any US ships in the region; tensions were high. Lyndon Johnson advised the Israelis to be patient and not be the ones to strike first-- at least not until they absolutely had to. This would give the US some clout in the UN, Israel had to be recognized as the non-belligerent, something Soviet propaganda would contradict. Johnson, while now known as a complex figure and often racist in conversation, had many Jewish advisors in his White House. "They consider the war to be like the Alamo and I don't aspire to be like Santa Anna." The US proposed the "Regatta Plan" to sail a convoy of international ships through the Straits of Tiran (at the Gulf of Aqaba) which would demonstrate if Egyptian belligerence if prevented, but could also risk a much wider war if a NATO ship was fired upon. Johnson was not prepared to come to Israel's aid in anything other than diplomacy, hoping a wider war could be avoided or, at the least, that the Arabs would fire first and the UN could intervene quickly. Egypt poured troops into the Sinai while Syria did likewise on the Golan Heights, both expelling UN observers or preventing their access to locations where they could observe the buildup. Iraq and Jordan began mobilizing their own forces sensing the impending attack. Chief of Staff (and future Prime Minister) Yitzhak Rabin had to take a temporary leave of absence after exhaustion from stress. As Israel finally activated reservists, they were condemned by the USSR as war-mongerers. On May 30, the Jordanians signed a defense pact that gave the Egyptian army command of Jordanian forces while reopening PLO offices, the PLO would also play a part in the battle. Moshe Dayan was named Israeli Defense Minister and folk hero Menachem Begin was also brought into the Cabinet. Arab propaganda across all nations prepared their people for a glorious retaking of Palestine.On June 4, the Israeli cabinet voted to launch a pre-emptive strike to end any Arab hopes of victory and force a quick UN resolution. The greatest emphasis in Israeli strategy was given to the Egyptian front in the hopes of crippling their military and convincing the Jordanians to the fight was futile. Air superiority is the key to any modern war. The most telling statistic in the book was that Israel had trained to develop an eight minute turnaround between a jet's landing and its refueling, rearming, and being back in the sky. Compare that to the reported eight hour turnaround for the Egyptian Air Force and it's not hard to do the math. Israel also had scouted any gaps in the Egyptian radar system.On the morning of June 5, after dawn patrols and when Egyptian leaders were stuck in traffic, Israel flew almost its entire air force over the Mediterranean then back behind Egyptian lines from the west to strike Egyptian air bases. Jordan had cabled Egypt warning of the approaching planes but a remarkable miscommunication about the channel or updating the Jordanian codes to be used between the forces Egypt to entirely miss the warning. The Israelis were able to fly 144 sorties in 100 minutes in a strategy where waves of jets would be able to attack in a non-stop rotation. Israeli tanks and paratroopers poured into Sinai simultaneously, a costly but successful campaign. Some Israeli mistakes led to casualties, but the Israeli forces were able to push through to the Suez Canal where Israeli commanders had forbidden anyone to cross. Egypt lied via its state-run media about dramatic Israeli defeat and Egyptian forces pressing on to Jerusalem, which sowed greater confusion both among Egyptian army and the other Arab states. The author writes of pledges from around the world of volunteers to the Egyptian cause that came pouring in after June 5. The Egyptians ordered Jordanian forces to begin attacking while claiming they had destroyed 75% of the Israeli air force in the opening hours, when the opposite was true!Given the information by the Egyptians, including a claim that Egypt was launching its ground invasion of Israel, the Jordanians rebuffed Israeli attempts to push a cease-fire with its sometimes amiable neighbor Jordan, Israel was promising no attacks on Jordan if Jordan would do likewise. Israel initially held off counterattacking the Jordanian forces who were inflicting casualties on the Israeli side. Suddenly, Jordan's army, weak compared to Egypt's, began fighting the most fiercely and took up positions formerly held by UN peacekeepers. Meanwhile, the Iraqi air force seemed lax and uneager to join the fray and moved slowly before mobilizing-- remarkable given the long buildup and knowledge that the war was imminent.Israel had remarkable luck or skill in destroying Jordan's small air force while it was on the ground refueling. The late-mobilizing Syrians and Iraqis also quickly lost any air superiority to Israeli jets. But Jordanian and Syrian artillery poised a threat, particularly to the airbases and civilian settlements. Jewish portions of Jerusalem that were surrounded by Arabs were also threatened. Having advantage in the air, the Israelis had success counterattacking near Jerusalem with a small, outnumbered infantry force on the ground while their air force punished any incoming reinforcements. The Israeli cabinet was ecstatic to learn that by the morning of June 6, recapturing the Temple Mount with the rest of Jerusalem was now a distinct possibility before a UN ceasefire could be imposed. Oren retells the story of the ecstasy of Israeli troops able to again pray at their holiest site. After heavy fighting against other Jordanian forces, Jordan was out of the fight on June 7 and a UN-brokered truce was signed.By now, the Arab media spread false rumors of British and US planes and involvement, with Egypt blaming their embarrassment on intervention by Western imperialist forces backing the zionists. Despite no actual US involvement, 34 Americans on the USS Liberty died when Israeli forces mistook it for an Egyptian destroyer on June 8 (for which Israel later paid reparations to victims). With their Arab allies losing badly, the US feared Soviet involvement in order to avoid the humiliation of their supported allies' defeat.Syrian troops were well-trained and with a Syrian advantage as most of Israel's army and air force was focused on the Sinai. But as Egypt retreated and Jordan dropped out, forces were quickly shifted to the Syrian front. Israel gained air superiority over Syrian on June 6, and after Syria violated a cease-fire on June 8, Israel mobilized its forces for the attack. After a fierce tank battle, Israel captured more territory, including Masada, while the Syrians tried to get the USSR more directly involved. A decision to announce the impending fall of Damascus in the media in order to ensure Soviet protection (again, think Russia moving to protect Assad in 2015) had the reverse effect of Syrian retreat and surrender, giving the Golan Heights to Israeli forces. Fighting officially ended on June 10. Some of the best fighting, interestingly, seemed to have been done by PLO operatives in already-occupied territories.One of the bizarre effects of the war was to cause Abdul Nasser to withdraw from all contact for three days after June 5 when he learned his army had been humiliated. After he appeared on national television to announce the truth of the defeat, blaming US and British armed intervention and Israel for attacking "from the West," he resigned. People took to the streets in a panic, calling for Nasser to return (which of course he did).As documented well by Ari Shavit, in the aftermath of the war Jews were rapidly expelled from all over the Arab territories. Confidence in Arab regimes was perhaps tainted, but not shattered. In 1973 everyone would again make a go at it before suffering similar humiliation and no liberation of occupied territories. Meanwhile, Israel would be left with a long legacy of occupation and abuse of Palestinians. Interestingly, the author does not mention much about the nuclear question. As Shavit points out, the Israelis had long since completed a nuclear reactor with the aid of France, and likely had nuclear arms by 1967. If Tel Aviv had been in danger of falling, might Israel have started a nuclear war?An aftermath not mentioned is the increasing religiosity around the Israeli victory, which Shavit writes came soon after the insecurity 1973 Yom Kippur war. Zionism began in the late 1800s as a secular movement and most remained that way through the 1950s. But the capture of Jerusalem and a determination through archaeology and religious history to show historic claims to land began to justify continued occupation of the Arab territories, despite international condemnation. The UN passed Resolution 242 in 1968, which basically left Jewish ownership of now-occupied Jerusalem in question, but it increasingly became central to Jewish nation-state identity. It was vague enough to be interpreted a dozen different ways as in a "yet to be determined." In the West, many evangelicals see Israel's victories in 1948 and 1967 as miraculous fulfilment of biblical prophecy. The Six Day War seems to be straight out of the Hebrew Bible-- impossible victory with few casualties despite overwhelming odds. While there is widespread theological disagreement about Israel's claim to the land, given their rejection of the Messiah, many influential evangelical politicians (Michelle Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, etc.) point to 1967 as divine intervention that America would be wise not to ignore. As I read this book, I was reminded that there were always many fortunate coincidences that a much more organized military is able to take advantage of in all of Israel's wars (from what I've read regarding the Maccabean revolution, 1948, the Yom Kippur War, etc.). 500,000 troops, 5,000 tanks, 1,000 fighter planes from seven different countries, plus the pledge of support from the USSR was able to bring nothing but humiliating defense and further loss of Arab territory. The Israelis lost hundreds while the Arabs officially lost thousands. Relevant or not, I'm still exploring covenentalist theology versus dispensationalist in an attempt to understand events in my own mind.I would like to read King Hussein's personal memoir of the war which he published later.I give this book 4 stars out of 5. Highly readable, great with details. However, it makes me wonder what the author missed.

  • Eric
    2018-11-15 21:33

    I had somewhat of a sketchy rememberance of the 6 Day War from 1967, but digging into the details was rather eye opening. I'd never heard of a professional army so completely breaking and running in the face of enemy. Politically appointed officers is always a red flag for combat forces, and stories are plentiful of the incompetence of political officers in the field, but in the example of the Egyptian Army, the senior officers broke and ran away immediately...and the rest of the army simply followed. Appalling. This was a very well researched and well written book.

  • Arthur Sperry
    2018-11-04 19:45

    This is a highly detailed and meticulously researched history of the Six Days War and the events and players involved. It is a great resource for anyone interested in this time period. I give it a rare five star rating for the effort and detail exercised by the author.

  • Gary
    2018-11-04 23:26

    This definitely is the most comprehensive work to date on the Six Day War. The author has consulted vastly documents, newspapers, books and interviews with important players.Michael Oren interviewed such figures as former Jordanian Brigade Commander Ata Ali, Egyptian historian Issam Darraz former Syrian Ambassador to the UN, George Tomeh, former MOSSAD chief, Meir Amit, former Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, widow of PM Levi Eshkol, Miriam Eshkol, former IDF Chief of Operations and later President, Ezer Weizmann and former Deputy IDF Chief of Staff and later Tourism Minister, Rechavam Ze'evi, interviewed a month before his brutal murder by terrorists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine , in the corridor of a Jerusalem hotel , former members of the Supreme Soviet and Soviet military advisors to the Egyptians and Syrians and former Le Monde correspondent , Eric Rouleau , just to name a few of the Syrians , Egyptians , Jordanians , Israelis , French , British and Russians that Oren interviewed.The novel is written in real time , as we trace events as they happened-it is really like watching the Six Day War , and the preceding and subsequent events unfold. He does not write to prove political points or to fit in with what it is currently fashionable to believe, like the malignant anti-Zionist `new historians' do.Ultimately it is a history book about Israel's fight for survival, as we read of the bellicose threats of the Arabs and their Soviet backers, to destroy Israel and drive the Jews into the sea. Hence reading some of the Arab promises of genocide, much like they had threatened in 1948, and much as they threaten today, one can only gain a greater understanding of what Israel faces if it is ever - G-D forbid- defeated.Here are some of the chilling promises of a second holocaust thundered by Arab leaders , and their evil Soviet instigators , before and during the Six Day War.Ahmed Shuqayri, the first leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said: "We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants.""Leading to the purification of Arab land from reaction, imperialism and Zionism."Damascus Radio, April 10 1967."If war comes it will be total, and the objective will be Israel's destruction...this is Arab power."Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser"We have decided that this battle will be one for the final liberation from imperialism and Zionism...We shall meet in Tel Aviv.Syrian President Attasi."The United Sates, oh Arabs, is the enemy of all peoples, the killer of life, the shedder of blood,, that is preventing you from liquidating Israel"President Nasser"If Israelis become drunk with success, and pursue their aggression further , the future of this little country will be a very sad one indeed"Soviet Ambassador to Israel, Sergei Chuvakhin"The cream of our troops stands at the front. Strike the enemy settlements, turn them into dust, pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews. Strike them without mercy.Syrian Air Force Commander Hafez al Assad.Essentially a reading of the book demonstrates how a combination of bellicose Arab rhetoric, threatening behaviour and, ultimately, an act of war left Israel no choice but pre-emptive action.It is instructive to read the words of Israel's Prime Minister at the time Levi Eshkol who reminded the world:" We cannot afford to lose. This may be our last stand in history. The Jewish people have something to give to the world. I believe that if you look at our history and at all the difficulties that we have survived, it means that history wants us to continue. We cannot survive if we experience again what happened to us under Hitler...I believe that you should understand us."Reading about the worlds equanimity over Arab plans to destroy Israel, and over Syrian shelling into Israel and PLO terror attacks into Israel, before the war, compared to the strident outcry against Israel when it hit back, gives one a chilling sense of de ja vu today.I felt a cold anger at the Soviet Union condemmning Israel for ` aggression' and `imperialism', while half the world groaned under the Communist jackboot.The same type of rhetoric is even more prevalent today in leftist academia, the UN, the international media , the so-called Non Aligned Movement , much of the European Union etc .The malignant high priest of leftist totalitarian ideology Noam `Wormtongue' Chomsky simply perfected Soviet/Red Chinese and Arab rhetoric , and sold it to millions.Sadly there was more understanding for Israel's plight in much of the world in 1967 than there is today. The fact that today the world has turned so viciously on Israel, as that tiny country still struggles to survive, is an indictment of a world that is clearly more evil today in 2004 than it was in 1967.It is also worth noting that the Arabs are not very good fighters against soldiers, but like the Amalekites of old , are very good at killing Jewish women and children.

  • Joseph Stieb
    2018-11-15 19:20

    Audio-booked this one with a great British narrator. This is a comprehensive, panoramic, and very well-sourced history of a pivotal conflict in Middle Eastern history. Oren has really done his homework: he presents the decision making and personalities on all sides of the conflict: Egypt, Israel, the USSR, the US, Syria, and Jordan. It is pretty detailed, and people who don't like diplomatic history that cycles through decision-making, Cabinet meetings, and military reports probably won't love this book. Still, it's pretty even handed, well-written, and informative.A few thoughts on this book:It's remarkable how much the authoritarian systems of Syria and Egypt were at the root of their catastrophic failure in these conflicts. Syria and Egypt had failed to provide for their people and instead were feeding them a stream of anti-Israeli, pan-Arab rhetoric and action. Part of that involved supporting Fedayeen raids and threats towards Israel, which kept IS permanently on edge and fearful for its security (think of how small Israel is, especially with the old borders). Because Egypt and Syria were competing for the mantle of Arab leadership, Nasser felt he had to match the escalating rhetoric and action of Syria against Israel in 1967. He was pushed by this and his duplicitous, unstable advisor Amr to mobilize into Sinai, eject the UN peacekeeping force there, close the Straits of Tiran, and issue a series of bloodcurdling threats to Israel. Some have argued that Nasser wasn't really going to carry out these threats and that he was merely playing for time. To these folks, Oren shows that Nasser came very close to executing Operation Dawn (an offensive against Israel) and shows how Israel could not accept massive Arab armies camping on its borders and closing its economic windpipe for very long. Whether this war was pre-emption of prevention (I'd say pre-emption) might be a moot question; the real point is that no country is going to tolerate living with an axe over its neck, held by sworn enemies, for very long. Ultimately Oren does a great job showing how pan-Arab competition and authoritarian politics drove the parties to this conflict into a corner that made war highly likely. Authoritarianism also doomed the Arab military effort. Officers at all levels were chosen on political loyalty rather than competence, and the training and doctrine were rudimentary at best. Troops were shuffled around in Sinai at the whims of Amr and Nasser, and the air force was hopelessly unprepared for Israel's lightning attack. The Arab soldiers themselves were poorly cared for and supplied and surrendered en masse to Israel's competent, driven, well-trained citizen soldiers. This book generally supports Fouad Ajami's argument that anti-Israeli politics was a sort of sickness in the Middle East. The rhetoric used against Israel before and during was chilling and genocidal: Nasser, Hussein, Assad, and others all threatened to eliminate Israel, to drive the Jews into the sea, to erase the humiliation of 1948, etc. There's no way you can blame Israel's leaders for taking these threats literally, especially given the background of the Jewish state and many of its citizens. So many of the problems of the Arab world were pinned on Israel, to the benefit of authoritarian leaders. It distorted their decision making and distracted from the graft, corruption, incompetence, and brutality of Arab politics. The rhetoric was raised so high it virtually forced Arab leaders into foolish decisions that cost thousands of Arab lives. The war itself seemed to teach no lessons: while it broke Nasser psychologically and mortally wounded pan-Arabism, the Arab states remained passionately opposed to negotiation with Israel and continued their nearly pathological hatred of the Jewish people. Example: the Arab delegations to the 1972 Olympics withdrew their athletes rather than sit through a ceremony of mourning for the murdered Jewish athletes, even praising the terrorists and celebrating the survivors once they were released. This kind of hatred is bad politics, as future Arab leaders who signed peace deals. It is also simply not healthy for a society to base so much of its identity and politics on the hatred of another group.This book also throws a wrench into certain academic narratives (highly politicized ones) that the Israeli seizure of the West Bank, Gaza, and Sinai was part of a massive Zionist plot or dream. Rather, the seizure of these territories was not really planned at all; it evolved from the contingencies on the ground and from military necessity. The leaders of the 67 War (Eshkol, Dayan, Rabin, etc) were focused on Israeli security first and foremost. They responded to attacks from Jordanians and Palestinians in Jerusalem, from Syria along the Golan Heights, and elsewhere, won those fights, and held the territory. Seizing Gaza similarly followed the dictates of strategic necessity: they needed these territories as buffer zones and soon after the war developed the concept of holding that territory in exchange for Arab promises of normalizing relations(the basis of the land for peace UN resolution). If you want to criticize Israel, you should do it fairly and say that they didn't think through the potential long-term consequences of seizing the West Bank and Gaza. But hey, leaders have to solve the problems in front of them first and foremost; sometimes that means creating a new set of problems. It was also interesting to note how the Cold War exacerbated this conflict. The USSR failed to restrain the Arab states, choosing to try to enhance its credentials in the Arab world and underestimating Israel's ability and willingness to respond. The U.S., distracted by Vietnam and fearful of confrontation with the USSR, didn't offer Israel a clear guarantee of security that might have comforted Israel enough to not strike first. The UN Security Council was crippled by superpower vetoes, and the General Assembly was so reflexively anti-Israeli that it couldn't serve as a mediator.This may seem like a really pro-Israel review, but I have to admit that it's hard not to sympathize with and admire Israel in this conflict. Surrounded by hostile neighbors that outnumbered them many times over, they struck in a brilliant offensive that guaranteed their security for years to come and crippled their opponents. This was, of course, a tragedy for the tens of thousands of Arab soldiers who suffered for the hubris, incompetence, and radicalism of their leadership. My sympathy with Israel has faded under the chauvinistic leadership of Netanyahu, but when you get into the full account of the 67 War it is hard to fault them too much. The side that strikes first is not always the aggressor, and no conflict shows that more than the pivotal Six-Day War. I recommend this book for people who have a high tolerance for "inside baseball" type diplomatic history and who want a more fine-grained understanding of a crucial conflict in modern Middle Eastern history.

  • Erez Davidi
    2018-11-06 15:42

    The Six Day War was an exceptionally short war in a long world history of short conflicts, and yet many books were written on it. So what new light can another history book shed about it? “Six Days of War” does not, indeed, provide any new information that wasn’t revealed before, though the author does have access to Russian sources that have only been available for a dozen or so years. Having said that, this is one of the most comprehensive books written about this short, yet full of events, war. Moreover, I found Oren to be fairly objective and unbiased (considering that nobody can be truly unbiased) when presenting the Arab, Russian, American, and Israeli points of view. The strength of the book lies exactly there. Oren has managed to provide a full account of the war from the perspective of every important country that was involved in the war, not like other books which focused chiefly on the Israeli or the Arab perspectives of it.The writing itself is excellent and very absorbing. It was so absorbing that I managed to finish it in one sitting on a long flight from Israel to China. One last thing I would like to mention is that this book might be slightly overwhelming for readers who are less familiar with the Six Day War due the name-dropping and the tendency to dwell on details.

  • Stephen Miller
    2018-11-07 19:32

    If I'd stopped reading halfway through (which, initially, I did) I would have given this one 2-3 stars as a fairly dry, fairly routine, heavily detailed account of the buildup to the Six Years War. It was interesting politically, but seemed to go in circles.Then the actual war breaks out, and the book really takes on a life of its own. I primarily listened to this, and found the last ~9 hours, or 5 chapters, extraordinarily gripping. Michael B. Oren isn't making any controversial statements here: he seems moderately pro Israel, a bit embarrassingly pro GW Bush given the time it was written, and little else. But he's excellent at teasing motive out of otherwise dry facts, and building a compelling narrative out of disjoint historical sources.This one gave me a huge amount of insight into the impact the Six Day War had on the Middle East, and offered illuminating accounts of players like Nasser, Hussein, al-Assad, Johnson, and the numerous Israeli politicians that seem to reverberate throughout decades of history books (Rabin, Sharon, Dayan, Begin...) It's not exactly a page-turner, but it's an impressive bit of synthesis. Definitely recommend getting the audiobook and listening at 1.5x -- this isn't one of those books where each word needs to be savored.

  • Jackie
    2018-11-07 23:20

    This book is a comprehensive and informative history of the events leading up to and during the 1967 war. Oren launches the book with descriptions of the problematic and exhaustingly complicated relations between Arab states that illustrate why nothing in the Middle East ever makes sense. Though Oren claims the book is an objective history, it's clear that his narrative favors Israel's cause: Oren exposes in depth the troublesome moral issues plaguing each member of the Israeli cabinet, but the Arab leaders come across as comparatively 2-dimensional beyond their internal rivalries. It would have been nice to hear more about how aspects of the war affected the Palestinians in particular, whom Oren depicts as relatively passive pawns in the conflict.Though Six Days of War is heavy on facts, its prose is rather dry. Missing from its pages are all of the juicy bits of folklore that I have come to associate with the 1967 war, such as the story of Eli Cohen and the eucalyptus trees. This book is useful in understanding the makings of the modern Middle East, but I wouldn't use it as your only source on the subject.

  • Anthony
    2018-11-13 22:30

    Here ya go Ivy - If you are a history buff this is a good book about what was a pivotal event in the Middle East and it really set the course for the years that followed. It is very Israel centric, but it is hard not to be when they won with so many forces aligned against them. It gets a bit technical and there are a fair amount of players involved. Interesting to see how the cold war played a role in the run up to war as well. I was always under the assumption that Egypt, Syria and Jordan struck first (and in essence they did by shelling Israeli settlements in the north {Syria} and closing off waterways to Israeli ships and militarizing the Sinai {Egypt}), but Israel was able to win by striking first and essentially removing Egypt from the mix early on. It is interesting that Israel was repeatedly getting shelled and having Egyption spy planes flying over its territory prior to the war starting and was asked to do nothing about it. Yet we in the US would never expect that type of action to go without a response. Good book.

  • Ben Pashkoff
    2018-11-04 23:24

    Notes from this:- Michael Oren IS a professional Historian, and this shows in this and his other books. He tries to not make judgements, but rather to display the facts (as he has perceived them) and explain a passage of history.- It might be said that Israel almost did not win the 6-day war so much as the Arabs lost it. The jealousy, the bickering, the internal fighting and the self-deluding all contributed to a loss.- NOW - it is incredible to drive by and see some of the sites of the battles mentioned (it makes for several good days of touring in Jerusalem) and not be amazed at how much has changed and still needs to change.

  • Martin
    2018-11-13 23:18

    I really liked this book. It is a really deep dive into the events of June 1967. Written in 2003, it covers the run-up to the war and the Staits of Tiran Crisis at a level that reveals the author read almost everybody's mail. and then the tic toc of the war is covered with a depth that also show how well he has researched this work with the generals. There is some great still interesting analysis at the end and a good range of photos and maps. I have read at least 20 book on this topic/era and this may be the best on the Six Day War- it might be the best book for all to reach for. Good for any level of interest- from military enthusiast to casual reader.