Michael B. Oren is an American-born Israeli historian and author, and was Israel's ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013. He has written three New York Times bestsellers--Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide; Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present; and Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for history and the National Jewish Book Award. Throughout his illustrious career as a Middle East scholar, Dr. Oren has been a distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, a contributing editor to The New Republic, and a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown. The Forward named Oren one of the five most influential American Jews, and The Jerusalem Post listed him as one of the world's ten most influential Jews. He currently lives with his family in Tel Aviv. He is a member of the Knesset and the Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office.
This is the most complete history to date of the Six Day War of 1967, in which Israel entered and began its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While no account can be definitive until Arab archives open, Oren, a Princeton-trained senior fellow at Jerusalem's Shalem Center who has served as director of Israel's department of inter-religious affairs and as an adviser to Israel's U.N. delegation, utilizes newly available archival sources and a spectrum of interviews with participants, including many Arabs, to fill gaps and correct misconceptions. Further, Six Days of War is an attack on "post-Zionism": the school of politics and history that casts Israel as the author of policies that intentionally promote the destuction of Palestine as a separate entity and of Palestinians as a people, not least through the occupation that began with the 1967 War. By contrast, Oren convincingly establishes in an often engrossing narrative the reactive, contingent nature of Israeli policy during both the crisis preceding the conflict and the war itself. As Prime Minister Levi Eshkol held the Israeli Defense Forces in check that May, Operation Dawn, an Egyptian plan for a preemptive strike against Israel, came within hours of implementation. It was canceled only because Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser feared it had been compromised. Israel's decision to seek its own security in arms was finally triggered, Oren shows, by Jordan's late accession to the hostile coalition dominated by Egypt and Syria. Geographically, the West Bank, then under Jordanian rule and occupation, cut Israel nearly in half. The military risk to Israel was unacceptable, Oren makes clear, in the context of a U.S. enmeshed in Vietnam and a West unwilling to act even in support of the status quo. Far from being a product of strategic calculation, Oren further argues, occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was also contingent: the consequence of a victory so rapid and one-sided that even Israel's generals found it difficult to believe it was happening. Israel, having proved it could not be defeated militarily and now possessing something to trade, hoped for comprehensive peace negotiations in a rational-actor model. Oren notes that some initiatives for peace did in fact develop. He seems, however, trying to convince himself along with his readers. Oren puts what he sees as Israel's enduring weaknesses in relief: not arrogance, but self-doubt, self-analysis and self-criticism, all carried to near-suicidal degrees in 1967. Arab policy, by contrast, featured a confident commitment to erasing Israel from the map. The Six Day War shook that confidence, he finds, but did not alter the commitment. About the nature of Israeli policy since the war, the book says little, but finds that "for all its military conquests, Israel was still incapable of imposing the peace it craved." (June) Forecast: This book will be given major national review attention and a major push via public radio and other outlets. A planned East Coast author tour will hardly be necessary, as Oren's phone should be ringing off the hook for comments on the current Israel/Palestine conflict. Despite its highly detailed play-by-play, this book could very well hit the bestseller list as readers, drawn by the subtitle, try to educate themselves. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In perhaps one of the most valuable recent works on this subject, Oren, a scholar and Senior Fellow at the Shalem Center, Jerusalem, details events from the Six Day War known in the Arab world as Al-Naksah (the setback) or simply the June war. The book's value lies in its focus and extensive documentation of multilingual resources, including archives, newspapers, reports, books, interviews, and Internet sites. In addition, Oren covers the international, regional, and domestic implications of the war and uses maps to illustrate the geographical changes and military strategies. Many books, e.g., Ahron Bregman's Israel's War: 1947-1993, Tibi Bassam's Conflict and War in the Middle East, 1967-91, and Eric Hammel's Six Days in June, cover a broader period, rely heavily on analysis, or fall short of objectivity. While Oren also recounts some necessary historical context for understanding the war's catalysts and discussing its aftermath, he primarily focuses on the pivotal six days of conflict, dedicating a full chapter for each day. Predictably, the most controversial information is his new findings on an Egyptian top-secret plan that came very close to eradicating Israel's army and nuclear power plant. While this is an essential addition for academic libraries, the book's exhaustive documentary style makes it a lesser candidate for public libraries. Ethan Pullman, Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"Powerful . . . A highly readable, even gripping account of the 1967 conflict . . . [Oren] has woven a seamless narrative out of a staggering variety of diplomatic and military strands."--The New York Times
"With a remarkably assured style, Oren elucidates nearly every
aspect of the conflict. . . . Oren's [book] will remain the
authoritative chronicle of the war. His achievement as a writer and
a historian is awesome."--The Atlantic Monthly "This is not
only the best book so far written on the six-day war, it is likely
to remain the best."--The Washington Post Book World
"Phenomenal . . . breathtaking history . . . a profoundly talented
writer. . . .
This book is not only one of the best books on this critical episode in Middle East history; it's one of the best-written books I've read this year, in any genre."--The Jerusalem Post "[In] Michael Oren's richly detailed and lucid account, the familiar story is thrilling once again. . . . What makes this book important is the breadth and depth of the research."--The New York Times Book Review "A first-rate new account of the conflict."--The Washington Post "The definitive history of the Six-Day War . . . [Oren's] narrative is precise but written with great literary flair. In no one else's study is there more understanding or more surprise."--Martin Peretz, Publisher, The New Republic "Compelling, perhaps even vital, reading."--San Jose Mercury News