The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948

A first-rate collection of studies on the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The introduction crisply sets out the issues, and the effect is an integrated work in which the authors talk to one another. Separate essays cover the foreign policy and performance of the states directly involved in the war -- Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Syria -- as well as stateless participants such as the Palestinians and the often overlooked Druze. (One minor quibble is that the book lacks a chapter on Lebanon.) Benny Morris addresses the thorny issue of responsibility for the massive Palestinian exodus of 1948, and Edward Said writes an afterword that should abash his detractors and impress all others. The volume offers no major surprises but illuminates the disarray of the Palestinian community, the inter-Arab rivalries that loomed larger than the fight against the Jewish state, and Israel's hard-nosed strategy on the ground that was cloaked in its image as a David against an Arab Goliath. The authors have exploited public archives, memoirs, and other newly available sources to produce a richer and more balanced history of "the war for Palestine."

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