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)
"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.
"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
"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.
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