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This is an excellent account of how a crisis can degenerate into a war. I know the history of the Middle East quite well but learned a great deal from this book -- particularly the reminders about how worthless security guarantees from Europe and the US can be. My only criticism of the book itself is that the author sometimes takes memoirs at face value rather than putting them in the context of the motivations of the writer and the subject: for example, are a few of the Yiddish bon mots what the players wish they had said or were they really that quick witted? The narrator is good and the reading is never dull but his pronunciation of Hebrew and Arabic terms is careless and sometimes unitelligible if you don't know what he is trying to say
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
This book gives a good overview of the 6-day war if (and only if) you remember that this is a very one-sided account of things. Oren is an Israeli diplomat, and despite going to some trouble early in the book to claim impartiality, this account is very partial indeed.
Put simply - everything Israel did was, in Oren's view, entirely defensive, moral and justified.
He mentions with abhorrence the Arab Legion shelling civilian Jewish parts of Jerusalem, but expresses no such concern about Israeli bombing/shelling of Arab settlements. Nasser is portrayed as a vain madman who was hell-bent on destroying Israel. There are no mentions of why the Arab states were angry about the behaviour of Israel in the run up to the war, no mention of why Israel would not allow the UNEF to be re-positioned onto their side of the lines. Operation Dawn is discussed at length as a threat to Israel, and yet the Israeli plans to attack the Egyptians are explained as a morally just "response" to potential Egyptian aggression. The list of unbalance in this book is endless.
However, it is actually a good account as long as you remember it is just the Israeli version of events.The narration is excellent and it is well structured and easy to listen to and follow.
I would recommend it, but with the caveat that this is not a balanced account of what happened.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
In reality, this book seemed like two separate books. Other than a brief history of Israel, the first half dealt primarily with the attempt to defuse the "Six Day War" via diplomacy. The second half dealt with the war itself, and briefly discussed the war's aftermath.
The second half of the book is intense and really keeps your interest. There are many interesting stories about the war and Israel's attempt to keep it going on long enough to meet their objectives before the U.N. stepped in. Although I knew that the war was a rout, I had no idea how badly the Arab countries were beaten during those 6 days and the long term ramifications of the war. The author does a good job of bringing these points home.
The first half of the book doesn't shine as bright. I don't know how many times the same scenario was repeated with different characters. The statement - "We won't back you if you start the war, but if you are attacked, we'll back you" was repeated so many times, you start to forget where you are. For those who are history buffs (and know all the players involved) this may be a goldmine of information, however IMHO the first half of the book could use some healthy editing.
That being said, the book is still worth a 4-5 star rating. The strengths of the 2nd half of the book EASILY make up for the repetitive nature of the first half.
22 of 22 people found this review helpful
This book is just great. I was afraid that this book might be a dry academic treatment of this war and the history surrounding it. It is very clearly a scholarly work, and yet it reads like a novel. The pace is intense and relentless; the narrator is great. After listening to this book it is not difficult to understand why the middle east is as screwed up as it is. Buy this book, you won't sorry.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful