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A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time

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A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time

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A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time
Third Edition, Revised and Expanded
By Howard M. Sachar
Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 2007
ISBN: 978-0-375-71132-9

Reviewed by Herbert White - July 16, 2007

A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time is a massive (the book runs more than 1250 pages), and detailed history of the modern state of Israel. Written by Howard M. Sachar, the third edition of this essential text has been fully revised and expanded. Sachar's writing is eloquent and even handed, and he presents a gripping narrative of the history of Israel from the rise of Jewish nationalism in the early 1800's to the end of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war.

Organized chronologically, the material in this volume is detailed without being verbose, and Sachar's narrative style makes reading this text a pleasure. Written primarily for university level students, this book is also readily accessible to general readers, and will prove useful for more advanced scholars seeking a general reference on Israeli history. The text includes numerous maps and a comprehensive and an up-to-date bibliography. It is also throughly indexed. An essential quality in a book of this size.

Within this significant work, Sachar covers the beginning of Zionism and the rise of Jewish Nationalism, the development and growth of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Israel, before statehood), and the factors that went into the creation of the state of Israel, including the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of the British Mandate in Palestine. Sachar also tackles the impact of the World War II on Palestine, the Birth of Israel, and the corresponding War of Independence. Sachar then moves on to a discussion of the growth of the Israeli Republic, the ingathering of refugees from around the world, and the ongoing search for peace in the region. The Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars are covered, as is the political, cultural, and economic strives made during this period. Sachar covers the Arab/Palestinian - Israeli conflict, and all its manifestations, with an even hand. He also tackles the Israeli incursions into Lebanon in 1982, and the most recent Israeli-Lebanese war of 2006. The two American-Iraqi Gulf Wars are also covered, due to their impact on Israel, and the general 'search for peace' in the Middle East.

While conflict, by necessity, takes up a large measure of this book, Sachar also explores the political and cultural aspects that gave rise to these conflicts, and their long-term impact on Israeli society. He also looks at other aspects of Israel's history, from the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry to what the future might hold in store for Israel.

A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time is essential reading for anyone with an interest in Jewish Nationalism, Israeli history, or the Middle East. This book can be used as a supplemental text in courses in Jewish or Israeli history. It also can be effectively used as the main text in a university level class on the subject.

Please Note: If you get a copy of this book, be sure that you get the third edition. The first edition of this book (of the same name) was published in 1976, and Sachar later wrote a sequel to it, entitled A History of Israel: From the Aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. The second edition, published in 1996 combined these two editions, but only went up to 1995, ending with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. This third volume, which I highly recommend, is accurate up through the later end of 2006.

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