In This Review

The Six-Day War: A Retrospective

The Six-Day War: A Retrospective
Edited by Richard B. Parker
345 pp, University Press Of Florida, 1996

Modeled on the efforts to understand the Cuban missile crisis by bringing together key participants, this project has assembled Israelis, Egyptians, Americans, and Russians on the 25th anniversary of the Arab-Israeli "Six-Day" War of 1967, in which Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, Golan, and the Sinai, and which has cast a long shadow over the Middle East. The book includes both analytical overviews by scholars and practitioners and excerpts from lively contemporary discussions. On the whole, Israelis feel the war was justified, and most Americans agree; Arabs often argue that Egyptian President Nasser was manipulated into a confrontation that he had been trying to avoid for most of the decade. A few mysteries remain: What was Moscow doing when it falsely warned of a concentration of Israeli troops on the Syrian front in early May? Precisely what led President Johnson to shift from trying to prevent war to acquiescing in an Israeli preemptive strike? Why did Nasser keep escalating the crisis, given the balance of military power in Israel's favor? Still, any reader of this book will come away with a much clearer understanding of how a crisis that no one seems to have wanted led to a war that radically changed the Middle East.