In This Review

1967: Israel, the War, and the Year That Transformed the Middle East
1967: Israel, the War, and the Year That Transformed the Middle East
By Tom Segev
Metropolitan Books, 2007, 688 pp

The author of One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate has written another masterful history. In this case, he covers not a quarter century but roughly a year: the run-up to the June 1967 war, the six days of combat, and the immediate aftermath. Although the actions, and inactions, of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the United States, and others are duly recorded, Segev sticks essentially to the Israeli side of the story, providing a dramatic day-by-day narrative of individual Israelis, the public, and the politicians responding to the crisis set off when Nasser sent troops into the Sinai and announced a blockade of the Strait of Tiran. Segev depicts a cautious old-guard political leadership, seeking to avoid war, or at least postpone war until tangible international support was assured, but ultimately bowing to the demands for an immediate strike by the military leadership (which came to the brink of considering a coup). His carefully drawn portraits of the civilian and military leaders, warts and all, make for an interpretation of "the year that transformed the Middle East" that is less than epic and borders on the tragic. The final section of this big book is tellingly entitled "They Thought They Had Won."