The History of Israel (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations) Review

The History of Israel (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)
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The History of Israel (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations) ReviewThe book begins with a very useful timeline of significant events, one the reader frequently refers to during the course of reading. The timeline is followed by a prologue of encyclopedic trivia such as geography, demographics, resources, and social-political data. Next is a bare-bones survey of the period 1000 B.C.E. to the early twentieth century C.E. The reader is quickly introduced to the Diaspora, the occupations of Palestine (Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Arab Moslem, Turkish Moslem, British) the origins of Sephardic (Spanish) and Azhkenazic (Germanic) Jews, the Old and New Yishuv (Palestine Jewish community), the new political Zionism (which the author claims sprouted from the Dreyfus Trial) and first major Jewish migrations (Aliyoth). During the early twentieth century, World War I and the overthrow of the czar shape events in Palestine, and Britain's involvement in the fate of Palestine becomes extensive. All of this complex history is summarily covered in the first one third of the book, in preparation for moving on to much more detailed explorations in chapters dedicated to the Holocaust, the birth of the Israeli State (which came into being instantly at war with Egypt, Trans-Jordan, Syria, and Iraq), the growth years up to 1966, the Six-Day War, the Yom-Kippur War and post-war period, the Likud (right wing) accession to power and the Egyptian/Israeli (Camp David) peace accord, the "National Unity" party years of uncertainty 1983-1992, and finally, the Oslo peace process and subsequent election of Benyamin Netanyahu in 1996.
This book, while seemingly short at 198 pages, is organized much like an academic text, and demands careful reading and considerable time for thorough review and assimilation. With numerous subtitles in each chapter, some of which head only brief paragraphs, the book seemed fragmented at times. But the reviewer is not insinuating alternatives for better format or organization. There are so many important details to consider, it was perhaps best that discretely significant events were clearly identified.
After a whirlwind survey of ancient Palestine, the author's familiarity and comfort with nineteenth century history is reflected in a relatively lengthier exposition of that period. As events resulting from the new Zionist movement began to spiral ever faster in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the reader senses the author slowing down even further to present necessarily greater detail. It seemed to the layman reviewer that no significant event has been omitted from this history. It is all here, including, in addition to the chapters noted above, the kibbutz movement, the Balfour Declaration, the British Mandate and White Paper, radical Zionist terrorism, Ben-Gurion's 1948 proclamation of Israeli independence, the roots and history of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the first Israeli Sinai occupation, Israeli-Jordanian co-operation, Munich, Entebbe, the Achille Lauro, the Lebanese refugee camp massacre, the Intifada, and the Rabin assassination. The volume concludes with a section of "Notable People in the History of Israel."
While history speaks for itself, the author's interpretations clearly exhibit a bias one might expect from a person of his religious background (Jewish). It is significant that the extensive bibliography, while well done with descriptive annotation, contains not even a single reference to an identifiably Arabic source. Also, the list of notable persons does not include any of those who might be classified as 'anti-Israeli.'
Ultimately, the author succeeds in providing the reader with a coherent description of pertinent events leading up to the present day situation in Israel/Palestine. The logarithmic increase in detail level provides enough understanding of ancient Palestine to prepare the reader for the ever-quickening cavalcade of events to occur in the twentieth century. Finally, it is worth noting that the author simply lays out the history without including any personal opinion as to possible solutions to the ongoing (Arab/Israeli) Palestine conflict.
This book is remarkably detailed, given its length. Perhaps a somewhat closer examination of ancient Palestine may have been helpful, but certainly not mandatory. It is a concise history that provides reasonable understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab dispute, so long as the reader is alert to separate the author's recognizable shadings. The entire history of Palestine is intricately woven within the larger study of world civilization, not the least of which occurred during the early twentieth century and the series of events leading up to the birth of the State of Israel. This work will benefit anyone who would like to gain a basic understanding of both the underlying causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the reasons why solutions are so frustratingly illusive.The History of Israel (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations) OverviewEvery school and public library should update its resources on the history of Israel with this engagingly written and succinct narrative history from biblical times through 1997. This readable history, based on the most recent scholarship, provides a chronological narrative that examines the political, religious, and social components of Israel's turbulent history. A thorough examination of the events from the Six Day War of 1967 through the struggle for peace in 1997 is of special interest. The work provides a timeline of events in the history of Israel, biographical sketches of key figures in Israeli history, and an annotated bibliography of books of interest to students and general readers. The prologue gives an overview of the land, its government, resources, and culture. The first few chapters describe the earliest history of the land through the 19th century settlement of European Jews seeking to escape persecution and to build a Jewish state. Following the Holocaust, refugees poured into the region and political and military struggle culminated in the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. Blumberg, an expert on the history of Israel, then details the years of growth and successive wars with Israel's Arab neighbors from 1948 through 1973. In an extended discussion, he examines the political turbulence within Israel from the late 1970s through 1997, Israel's relations with its neighbors and the international community, and the progress and setbacks in the struggle for peace between Israel and the Arabs.

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