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A History of Israel

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A History of Israel

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A History of Israel
By Ahron Bregman
Palgrave Macmillan
Hampshire, England and New York: (2002)
ISBN: 0-333-67632-7

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - September 12, 2003

In A History of Israel, Ahron Bregman provides readers with a brief overview of modern Israeli history. This history commences with the creation of the modern Zionist movement and Theodor Herzl's vision of a modern Jewish state situated in the Land of Israel. From there it provides a concise overview of the states founding, the numerous wars Israel has fought with its Arab neighbors, the various peace initiatives that have been tried, and it provides an up-to-date summary of the current political situation in Israel through 2001.

Writing about an area as steeped in controversy as Israel can be a daunting task. Bregman, who has written extensively on Israeli history, does an excellent job in this text of offering unbiased and authoritative descriptions of the causes and consequences of the various conflicts that have arisen between the Israelis and the Arabs. Bregman takes looks at the history of Israel from a purely secular perspective, yet he does so without denigrating religious Jews, and others, who see the founding of the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy.

The text is divided into eight chronological chapters:
  1. The Road to Statehood, 1897-1947

  2. The Birth of Israel, 1948-1949

  3. Years of Consolidation, 1950-1966

  4. The Six-Day War and Afterwards, 1967-1973

  5. Yom Kippur War and the Death of Labour, 1973-1977

  6. Begin's Years, 1977-1983

  7. The Road to Peace, 1983-1991

  8. Peace and War, 1992 to Present (i.e., through 2001)
Into his compelling historical narrative, Bregman has seamlessly interwoven newly uncovered information about Israel's past, as well as brief sketches of the major political figures that had a hand in shaping Israeli history. This text also includes maps, endnotes, and a Further Reading list of works in English on Israel's history. In addition, this book is enhanced by the inclusion of two documents that have never before been published: The Dayan el-Tohami Protocol, 1977 and the Draft Declaration of Principles, Israel - Syria, 1992. Both these documents will be of immense interest to scholars and students.

A History of Israel is ideal for the general reader wishing to learn about Israeli history in general, and as a resource by which to understand the current conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Due to the brevity of this text, only 'major' events in Israel's history are discussed, and it is therefore best suited as an introductory or supplemental text when used in an undergraduate classroom setting. Overall, Bregman presents a comprehensive and readable introduction to modern Israeli history that is both educational and enthralling.

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