- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (15 May 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300151128
- ISBN-13: 978-0300151121
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 24.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 658 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War Paperback – 15 May 2009
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About the Author
Benny Morris is professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University, Israel. He is the leading figure among Israel's "New Historians," who over the past two decades have reshaped our understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict. His books include Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001; Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956; and The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited.
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If they had at the beginning accepted the UN partition passed in Nov 1947, the Palestinians would have had a country of their own and a much smaller state of Israel next door. But goaded on by Arab neighbours, they outright rejected the partition plan.
When the invasion by the Arab neighbours - Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq - failed miserably and unbelievably, the Palestinians realised they had lost much of their original country.
The book explains how a young state of Israel with only a rag tag band of fighters could defeat 4 armies, 3 of them trained and armed by the British and another with French influence. The state of Israel with a population of 650,000 Jews faced hostile forces from countries with a combined population of 50 million. Human bravery and brilliance or Divine intervention or both?
Benny Morris is considered a revisionist historian because he details bravery and blunders from both sides. Atrocities committed by Israelies and Arabs are documented without any excuses.
Recommended reading for military historians.
What I admire most of this book is how Morris handles historically contentious events. In addressing the controversial issues, he weighs both sides against one another. Then, using both historical context and his keen judgment, Morris provides a compelling hypotheses regarding the actual course of events.
Despite giving the book 5 stars, I observed two shortcomings. Some more maps may have aided in the understanding of the events and battles. Also, Morris assumes a prior knowledge of battle terms and weaponry that many readers may not possess.
On the whole, Benny Morris' 1948 provides a refreshing dose of clear-minded scholarship. It is the closest one will get to an authoritative account of what really happened in 1948.
Although some claim that Morris labels an apologist for the Arabs and that he is "anti-Israel", I find Morris's writing to be objective and, if anything, pro-Israel. His description of the killings at Deir Yassin is "strictly the facts" as he has uncovered them and doesn't come across as a criticism of the Israeli soldiers or commanders involved. Likewise he describes the few forced expulsions of Arabs by Israeli troops neutrally, and he seems to believe these were an unfortunate but understandable response to Arab actions and also required for a majority-Jewish State of Israel.
Morris also approached the Arab/Muslim side with sensitivity and even-handedness. He described the competing interests - some who wanted to acknowledge and accomodate the reality of Jews living in the land, some who wanted independence, some who wished to annex the mandate into their own Arab realms (notably Jordan, and to a lesser degree Egypt), some who wished let the Jews stay as a minority under Arab/Islamic rule, and some who wish to rid the land completely of all Jews.
I think that this is the best, most even-handed book I have read on the subject so far. I highly recommend it!