Michael B. Oren spotlights all the participants: Arab, Israeli, Soviet, and American, as well as all the world leaders involved in this earth-shaking clash that transformed the world.
©2002 Michael B. Oren; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Oren is not only a lucid, compelling writer, but reader Robert Whitfield is a master at narrative drive through intonation alone. The listener cannot put this book down. A triumph." (AudioFile)
Coming into this book, I had only a rudimentary knowledge of the Six Day War, and I probably often got it confused with the Yom Kippur war or the 1958 Sinai incident. The book managed to indoctrinate me into what the author calls the Middle East “Context” and I am finding that I am looking at the current events in the area with new eyes.
The book is split into four distinct sections. The first deals with an abbreviated history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and provides a summary of the 1948 and 1958 wars, the rise of the dictatorships in the neighboring countries (especially Nassar in Egypt). The second portion deals at length with the events and diplomacy that led up to the war. The third portion deals with the military and political maneuvering that went on during the actual armed conflict. Finally the end of the book provides a “wrap up,” describing how the major players ended up and what the war did to change the political landscape of the area.
The author manages to dramaticize many of the decisions quite well -- the Liberty incident as narrated in the book is a real nail-biter, as is the initial Israeli first-strike on the Egyptians. Oren reminds me a bit of Shelby Foote ("A Narrative History of the Civil War") in how his writing turns the history into drama in places. The pathos of the historical characters is wonderful as well: Nassar of Egypt is a classic flawed and corrupted ruler, and I liked the idea of Anwar Sadat as Achilles brooding in his tent; Dianne, Rabin, LBJ, Eban and the others play out like characters in a Shakespearian drama in places. Though you know how it all will play out, there is a great deal of pleasure in hearing it play out.
For me, the book was very revealing. I’d recommend the book for anyone who would like an entertaining “primer” into the history of the modern Middle East and into the historical Israeli outlook in the region.
This book is one of the rare war chronicles that reads like a novel. I particularly like how the author develops the character of the leaders on both sides. Also, the history leading up to the conflict is written well. The only negative I can think of was the lack of maps inherent with any audiobook. In this case you REALLY need them unless you are a geography expert on the region. I downloaded some maps of Israel and surronding countries before and during the war. I highly recommend you do the same.
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.
Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres.
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.
I think those who have an indepth knowledge of the places, politics and charaacters prior to listening to this book. I thought I was going to be able to follow it but there was too much detail and I got lost in all the characters and locations. As one person said in their feedback....listen with a map at hand.
I didn't really care for his voice so it was hard for me to listen.
It probably would be a very good listen for those studying historical facts, who already has points of reference prior to listening...It's not for the casual listener. To sum it up...I was looking for a novel and this came across more like a textbook.
Oren takes a Cornelius Ryan (The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far, etc) approach to telling the story of this conflict. With apologies to Mr Ryan, Mr Oren's research is, indeed, definitive. The reader/listener is immediately engaged in all aspects of the war from the highest political decision making down to the experience of the individual soldier and pilot. Mr Oren makes his case- that modern middle eastern issues are a direct result of the making and outcome of this conflict-superbly. As in Mr Ryan's works, the writing is riveting and exciting. Mr Whitfield's reading is, as is his standard, eloquent and entertaining.
This was a great account of the Six Day War. It gives excellent background information that helps one understand the dynamics of Middle East tensions then and now. Maps are helpful. I bought a Middle Eastern atlas...helpful for this book and other historical narratives as well. The narration is well-done, as is the writing. If you desire a better understanding of this period of time in the Mid-East, consider this book. It is excellent.
I was hoping the book would be more about the battle, but half the book was about the set up for the war. The aurthor goes into great detail on who, what and when, but it lacked the drama and dialogue of war in the trenches. Overall I liked the book, but it is more historical then dramatical.
I truly enjoyed the historical overview leading up to this event, including the details on key players. The play-by-play accounting of the period immediately prior to and during this event was very insightful. The author, in my opinion, presented the facts and didn't show support for any particular side, which I greatly appreciate. I didn't realize how fortunate Israel was that their opposition was not united. The outcome could have been very different. Likewise, I was unfamiliar with the "Big Lie."
It increased my understanding of the struggle of both sides, and how important an active and strong foreign policy is to reduce military action. I was surprised to learn of key opportunities to reduce the loss of life, which were missed simply for a lack of understanding of the urgency of communications.
This is the way a definitive work on a major military battle should read. Oren's thorough research comes through with amazing levels of detail in both the Israeli and Arab decision-makers and planning staffs, as well as U.S. and UN actions and behind-the-scenes considerations. Amazingly, Oren found a way to cram this book with tons of details, but I never found myself getting bored or lost in the data--probably due to great writing and narration.
Oren's account of the 6-Day War drives home the point that Clausewitz made long ago: "War is politics by other means." Until you understand the political drives, the personalities calling the shots, the miscommunications, the hidden agendas and the historical perspective, you will not truly understand why any given war occurs or how it ends, and if the resulting peace is truly lasting or if it is going to lead to more conflict.
As I read this book, the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon conflict was just heating up. I found the historical insights in this book invaluable in understanding some of the context of the current conflict.
"A fascinating acoount of the politics of a war"
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
"Very biased, but worthwhile"
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.
"Balanced and Informative"
I found the book to be slightly overwhelming at first, the amount of information being imparted was quite rapid in pace and a lot to take in initially. The book settled down when it began swirling around the political scene, but I felt key concepts and events had swept me by at times. I enjoyed the title, it really offered up a balanced and informative slice of the Middle East Conflict during the late 60's. There wasn't as much narrative on the ground as I like, but you get a good chunk of the political scene and the motivations and lack of aptitude around the whole conflict. The personalities shine through the commentary and you really feel the tug of war going on with the super-powers, plucking the strings behind the main issues.
It certainly gives you a better understanding of the Crisis in the Middle East, and gives you enough of the lead up to the Six Day War, and postulating about the events after the Six Day War. It made me appreciate just how complicated the situation is, and why it is still a hotbed of hostility to this day.
"Fascinating listen, just bring a map"
The book is as detailed and thorough as one could hope for. It builds and builds, creeping towards the war you know is going to break out. Oren wonderfully breaks down the conversations, contexts, and collective strain that preceded the conflict. By the time the first shots are fired you have come to know the protagonists well, and can feel the exhaustion they must have felt after months of build-up and stress. The war itself is told well, highlighting the challenges of individual battles in enough detail to give you a sense of their danger and difficulty, but not too much as to overwhelm you with minute orders and commands.
Oren takes on the task of this assignment with as much neutrality and objectivity as is probably possible, but you end up getting a better feel for the Israeli side. This is not to say he takes a pro-Israel stance, just that the detail of the leadership decisions of the Israeli leadership is more than the other countries. He does an excellent job addressing the interests of each country, including the Russians and USA along with the entire Middle-East contingent, so this is not really a fault of the book, just an observation on my part. The other problem with the book, and I suspect this is related to the audio format, is that you really could benefit from a map. Yes, it is easy enough to envisage where Egypt and Israel sit on a map, but when he starts discussing different towns and passes, it would have been nice to have a map.
Overall, a wonderfully written and researched book that brings to light the hectic pace of negotiations and international diplomacy that tends to get overlooked when discussing this war.
"Balanced and engaging - a pivotal week in history."
The narration is clear and well paced and allowed the story to wash over me easily. Not necessarily better than reading a print version, it was certainly easier for me to access and meant I may have taken considerably longer to read otherwise.
The research behind this version of the 6 day war is drawn from more and more varied sources than previously available and as such it adds some clear and powerful validations of the facts as we historically have known them.
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