This superior work of scholarship is the best account that will exist for some time of one of the pivotal wars of the twentieth century. The author has created a narrative that does its best to be dispassionate about matters that still elicit more passion than analysis, drawing on archival sources and interviews from all sides. (The Arab side, alas, is thinner than the rest, for fewer records are available.) In Oren's telling, this conflict was produced by blunder and bravado on the Arab side, and fear and apprehension in the Israeli camp. Interested more in the political and diplomatic events than in military or societal ones, Oren nonetheless delivers a rounded tale. He constructs a gripping account that sheds light not only on the tortured politics of the region but on the broader, troubling question of how politicians may find themselves drawn into a conflict that they have neither anticipated nor desired. Other specialized volumes and works of synthesis and interpretation will appear, but this book will stand for many years.
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