(Thanks a lot, cheap white wine and Amazons 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. After all, the Middle East is a lot of history bloody, tragic, comic-tragic to swallow. 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 gamblers gambit, and fear, fear, fear) that triggered open conflict. Im 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. Eventually, based on false reports that Israel was going to attack Syria, Egypts leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser moved troops into the Sinai and ejected the UN observers stationed there. 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. 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. Towards the end of the six days, with the west and south secure, Israel captured the Golan Heights defended by Syria for good measure. The tactical aspects of the war is conveyed academically, as though this were a staff ride rather than a general history. The subtitle to Orens work is June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. 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 Middle East is still an evolving, bloody, perhaps-intractable mess.
New review: Aug 09 Since 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. 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. 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.
V. I have read biographies of many of the key people in this book so I am very familiar with the events. Oren became Israels Ambassador to the United States. If you are interested in the history of Israel or the Middle East this book will provide information about an important event.
Ambassador Oren's narrative confirms those vague impressions, but he also provides the detail to flesh out the story.
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.
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. 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. 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.
Oren explains in considerable detail how Arab ignorance and mistrust was the real key to the vastly outnumbered Israelis defeating three Arab armies in just six days. And yet the Israeli attack on June 5, 1967, came as a complete surprise to the commander of the Egyptian Army. On June 5, nearly the entire Israeli Air Force attacked air bases all across Egypt. With so much of the IDF fighting on the ground and in the air in Sinai driving toward Egypt, if the Jordanian and Syrian armies had attacked, Israel would have to stop the attack and defend itself, at minimum pulling all air support away from Egypt. the IDF attacked to take out the guns and by the night of June 9-10, retook Jerusalem and had the Jordanian army, including the vaunted Arab Legion in full retrat all across the West Bank of the Jordan River. If the Syrians had attacked, the Israelis would have been obliged to stop their offensives in Jordan and Egypt. Oren explains battles in great detail, especially retaking Jerusalem and the air attack that won the war on the first day.
This was a very well researched and well written book.
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 web Reviewed by Steve Kettmann Sunday, July 28, 2002 Six Days of War June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East By Michael B. 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. 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. "Capriciousness characterized the process leading to the outbreak of the war," Oren writes. 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. "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. 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.
Oren (Hebrew: ; born Michael Scott Bornstein on May 20, 1955) is an American-born Israeli historian, author, politician, former ambassador to the United States (20092013), and current member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party and the Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office. His newest book Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide was published by Random House on June 23, 2015. The IDF is a strong military force, but does not have the capacity and magnitude the US Army has to deter aggression." Also during June 2015, an op-ed piece by Oren published in the Wall Street Journal claimed that Barack Obama had deliberately sabotaged US-Israeli relations, resulting in Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon distancing himself and the party from Oren's stated views.59 Shortly afterwards another article by Oren was published by Foreign Policy, which argued that Obama's outreach to the Muslim world as highlighted by his Cairo speech was partly rooted in "abandonment" by his father and stepfather. In 2015, Oren published Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide (June 2015), which aimed to describe the recent state of IsraelUS relations.