The definitive one-volume history of Israel by its most distinguished historian
From its Zionist beginnings at the end of the nineteenth century through the past sixty, tumultuous years, the state of Israel has been, as van Creveld argues, "the greatest success story in the entire twentieth century." In this crisp volume, he skillfully relates the improbable story of a nationless people who, given a hot and arid patch of land and coping with every imaginable obstacle, founded a country that is now the envy of surrounding states. While most studies on Israel focus on the political, this encompassing history weaves together the nation's economic, social, cultural and religious narratives while also offering diplomatic solutions to help Israel achieve peace. Without question, this is the best one-volume history of Israel and its people.
It's no mean feat to sketch the late 19th century rise of Zionism and creation of Israel with economy and compassion, and to deliver an honest appraisal of the country's strengths and weaknesses. That celebrated historian van Creveld (The Culture of War) manages just this, and does so with an easy accessibility, is to be admired. But he inexplicably fails to address Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands until he reaches the 21st century, hardly even mentioning Palestinian opposition until more than half the book is past. Nothing Israel has done in the last 43 years can be understood without considering the money and manpower invested in controlling one and a half million people, to say nothing of its international relations (and wars). To write that "by the 1980s, to be a left-winger meant opposing settlement" or that "one country after another cut its diplomatic ties with Jerusalem " without considering why is to overlook the single greatest factor affecting four decades of Israeli history, an enormous misstep in an otherwise first-rate study. \n