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Israel: A History [Paperback]

Dr Martin Gilbert
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 1999
Israel is a small and relatively young country, but its turbulent history has placed it squarely at the centre of the world stage for most of this century. For two millennia the Jews, dispersed all over the world, prayed for a return to Zion. Until the nineteenth century, that dream seemed a fantasy, but then a secular Zionist movement was born and soon the initial trickle of Jewish immigrants to Palestine turned into a flood as Jews fled persecution in Europe. From these beginnings, Martin Gilbert traces the events and personalities that would lead to the sudden, dramatic declaration of Statehood in May 1948. From that point on, Israel's history has been dominated by conflict: Suez, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the Lebanon and the Intifada. Using contemporary documents and eyewitness accounts, drawing on his own intimate knowledge of the country and its people, Martin Gilbert weaves together a seamless, page-turning history of a powerful and proud nation.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New edition edition (1 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552995452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552995450
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 674,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Rich in detail...a grand, heroic narrative.', The Times Literary Supplement .'Martin Gilbert has left us in his debt, not only for a superlative history of Israel, but also for a restatement of the classic vision of Zion, in which a Middle East without guns is not a bedtime story but an imperative long overdue. This is the vision for which Yitzhak Rabin gave his life. This book is tribute to his memory.', Jonathan Sacks, The Times .'Not just an invaluable piece of historical research, it is also a joy to read...Required reading for anyone who wants to understand that most extraordinary and perplexing country.', Jewish Chronicle .'The most comprehensive account of Israeli history yet published.', Efraim Karsh, Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

The story of Israel, past and present, by one of Britain’s bestselling historians and the ultimate authority on the Jewish nation.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly presented historical research. 19 Sep 2003
By M. D Roberts VINE VOICE
Drawing on his vast experience of this subject Sir Martin Gilbert has documented a superlative history of Israel which is extremely thorough and accurate.
This study surveys in some detail the first 50 years of Israel's history following the nation's re-birth in 1948. The book also tells of the involvement of the nation's pioneers and founders extending back into the latter half of the nineteenth century, together with many stories pertaining to the individuals who contributed to the re-birth of the Jewish state and to it's very survival during the ensuing conflicts.
The book begins with a chapter entitled "Ideals For Statehood" and describes how, since the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70AD, Jews dispersed throughout the World have prayed for a return to Zion. "Next Year in Jerusalem" being the hope expressed at the end of every Passover meal. Later in the book the incredible hostility towards such Zionism is addressed.
The book initially describes the "considerable Jewish activity in Palestine" as the nineteenth century came to an end and extends to the Balfour Declaration and the work towards a Jewish homeland in Palestine that the latter promised. Unfortunately the book lacks any appropriate or real attention to the creation of the state of Transjordan in 1922 and how this affected the eventual rebirth of Israel. An issue where Britain detached 78% of the original area of Mandate Palestine to create another Arab entity in order to satisfy Arab aspirations for independence. This area east of the Jordan was thereafter called Trans-Jordan, and remained legally part of the British Mandate until 1946, when it was declared an independent Arab state, renamed Jordan in 1953.
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29 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Overview Of Israel's History 14 May 2002
By A Customer
Martin Gilberts book on Israel was my first real reading material on the complex situation in the Middle East and its main player. I found his writing style to be very easy to read and as a result finished off the book quite quickly. He tells the story of Israel with evident passion and also I think a balanced view which is of great importance for such a subject.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 10 Dec 2010
As some of the other reviewers have pointed out,this is unsatisying as history.Gilbert is generally pro-Zionist(nothing wrong with that,he does not pretend to be otherwise)but so much of the book is reduced to a chronology,not a history.
The lack of feetnotes and references is a bit glaring too.He shines in the chapters about the Yom Kippur war in 1973,when he happened to be visting Israel and interweaves his own experiences with the more general history.These chapters are,it must be said,the exception to most of the rest of the book.Gilbert has written much better histories than this.
If you want a much better pro-Zionist history,try "A History of Israel" by Howard Zachar.I wouldn't recommend Gilbert's "Israel" to somebody new to either Israeli or Middle east history.
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23 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great history book 1 Feb 2007
This is a greatly detailed and interesting history of the State of Israel (a fascinating coutry) from its earliest origins in the 19th Century with the Zionist pioneers carving out a safe home in the Negev or Gaillee away from persecution, through independence and the various wars to the present day.

Israel has one of the most interesting histories possible and Gilbert has captured in the pages of this great book all the incidents, wars, characters, events, peoples, etc that go to make up any country in a very readable, enjoyable, accessible way.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Israel and the Middle east.
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23 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Immensely Authoritative History 24 Sep 2002
This is a big book - in more senses than one - but it is extremely readable (note: the author is Churchill's official biographer). Starting with the efforts of the early Zionists in the 1860s and ending with the Peace Process of the 1990s, Gilbert gives an extremely thorough and balanced history of Israel and her struggle to come to terms with her neighbours. This must remain the definitive study for the foreseeable future.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic history book 26 Mar 2008
Martin Gilbert's history of Israel is a great achievement and is a fascinating read. It is hard to put this heavy tome aside because despite its length, it is so well written that you hardly ever want to stop reading on. The new editon covers the period of the last ten years up to 2007, but perhaps even more revealing is the detailed account Gilbert gives of the first three decades of the modern State of Israel's existence, and the years prior to it when Zionists successfully reclaimed the homeland of their ancestors. While obviously written with a certain degree of sympathy for his subject, Gilbert always remains a fair and balanced chronicler who never spares with criticism of human rights abuses or errors of judgment when he deems it appropriate.

Most aspects of the current conflicts and debates that rage in (and around) the Middle East are difficult to grasp without knowledge of the facts - as opposed to the myths - of the past six or seven decades. Gilbert's book is authoritative and well-informed. It is a masterpiece of contemporary history writing.
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25 of 38 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Martin Gilbert has managed to bring together both a comprehensive and personalised account of what is modern Israel. He brings together the circumstances that have produced modern Israel and the current Arab-Israeli conflict.
I personally enjoyed this history enormously and would recommend it to anyone interested in Israel and it's founding. Please read and recommend.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Zionist lies
Very heavy going, but provides a history of Israel - from an Israeli perspective. Shows how the Israelis grew from a people shattered by the Holocaust, to conquerors and dictators.
Published 1 month ago by Zero
2.0 out of 5 stars Glad I didn't pay the RRP
I was really looking forward to this book as I am planning my first visit to Israel later this year and wanted to bone up on its history. But the book is a real disappointment. Read more
Published 22 months ago by C. Cassidy
1.0 out of 5 stars No references, No thanks
Ironically (i might be using the word inaccurately, again...) but I just critized a book on here for being too overly scholary, which took away from the overall reading pleasure. Read more
Published on 11 Oct 2011 by Wes Fleure
1.0 out of 5 stars An Opinion Piece
To my mind, you can judge the seriousness of an historian of controversial subjects by the thoroughness of their references and footnotes. Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2010 by Darcha
5.0 out of 5 stars The long journey
Sir Martin Gilbert, who is Jewish, is acknowledged as one of the leading historians of this generation. Read more
Published on 26 July 2010 by C. W. Stammers
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading and unbalanced
Whilst well written, Gilbert's book is unashamedly sympathetic to the Zionist vision and fails to balance differing perceptions of the history of Palestine/Israel. Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2009 by M. A. John
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, insightful, and rigorous
An excellent introduction to Israel's history in this day of make believe accounts about the nation. Read more
Published on 4 Sep 2008 by Charles Soper
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of the History of Israel.
A great book on the history of Israel. Very well written and easy to read with a lot of great detail. A must for all who want to get a better understanding of Israel.
Published on 13 April 2008 by Peter Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate account of a great nation
Never before have I sped so quickly and enjoyably through such a dense history book.
Published on 3 Jun 2007 by Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive history of Israel from 1862 to 1997
Martin Gilbert, in this comprehensive volume, chronicles the history of the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), from 1862 to 1997. Read more
Published on 22 May 2007 by Gary Selikow
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