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Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East

Tom Segev


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ISBN10: 0805088121
ISBN13: 9780805088120

Trade Paperback

704 Pages



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Tom Segev's acclaimed works One Palestine, Complete and The Seventh Million overturned accepted views of the history of Israel. Now, in 1967—a number-one bestseller in Hebrew—he brings his masterful skills to the watershed year when six days of war reshaped the country and the entire region.

Going far beyond a military account, Segev re-creates the crisis in Israel before 1967, showing how economic recession, a full grasp of the Holocaust's horrors, and the dire threats made by neighbor states combined to produce a climate of apocalypse. He depicts the country's bravado after its victory, the mood revealed in a popular joke in which one soldier says to his friend, "Let's take over Cairo"; the friend replies, "Then what shall we do in the afternoon?"

Drawing on unpublished letters and diaries, as well as government memos and military records, Segev reconstructs an era of new possibilities and tragic missteps. He introduces the legendary figures—Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Lyndon Johnson—and an epic cast of soldiers, lobbyists, refugees, and settlers. He reveals as never before Israel's intimacy with the White House as well as the political rivalries that sabotaged any chance of peace. Above all, he challenges the view that the war was inevitable, showing that a series of disastrous miscalculations lie behind the bloodshed.


Praise for 1967

"Drawing on hundreds of unpublished letters, diaries and minutes of cabinet meetings, as well as newspapers and extensive interviews with participants, Mr. Segev paints a deliciously detailed portrait of Israel at the time, including the cost of refreshments at high school dances, sartorial habits of officials, the design of a typical apartment and the quirks of leaders like Moshe Dayan . . . Mr. Segev makes a compelling and fresh case that the war was at least partly a result of a delicate and vulnerable moment in Israeli history . . . 1967 is a fascinating and devastating portrait of a society filled with self-doubt, then suddenly with power and messianic fervor."—Ethan Bronner, The New York Times

"Segev's look into the origins of the occupation is invaluable. His research is prodigious, his intelligence obvious, his ability to reconstruct complex chains of events impressive. He writes clearly and confidently and has an eye for the telling, and often witty, detail."—David Margolick, The New York Times Book Review

"At over 600 pages, [1967] is a monumental cultural and military history of a transformational moment both for Israel and the region. Recently published in English to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the June 1967 Six Day War, the book should become the definitive telling not only of the war itself from an Israeli point of view, but of the time leading up to it and the consequences that resulted . . . Segev, one of Israel's most respected journalists, has access not only to newly de-classified documents, but to surviving members of some of the key players at the time, including the widow of Levi Eshkol. (Eshkol was Prime Minister during the war.) Born in Jerusalem in 1945 (his father was killed in Israeli's War of Independence in 1948), Segev has a feel for Israeli society unparalleled by any other Israeli writer translated into English today. This book is as much about a society in crisis as it is about the war itself. To that end, the chapters on 1966, comprising nearly half the book, are as important to understanding what happened in 1967 as are the chapters on the aftermath. It all leads us to both the stalemate that exists today between Israel and the Palestinians and the one dividing Israelis against themselves."—Jo-Ann Mort, The American Prospect

"This is a vivid and arresting portrait of how Israel went from the depths of depression and despair to the heights of ecstasy and elation in the space of six days in 1967. Israeli journalist and historian Tom Segev has created a massive panorama of the events leading up to the Six Day War of 1967, the war itself, and the year following. In the process, he appears to have spared no detail in getting into the lives of the people and events he describes . . . This new translation by Jessica Cohen brilliantly captures the page-turning style and thoroughness that is the essence of Segev's style. Within its covers are in-depth portraits of all of the leading personalities of the time: Levi Eshkol, Moshe Dayan, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Allon and David Ben-Gurion; generals Ezer Weizman and Uzi Narkiss; Matti Peled and Mordechai Gur; diplomats Abraham Harmon, Yakov Herzog, Ephraim Evron; Rabbi Shlomo Goren and prominent journalists and academics . . . Forty years later, some have described Israel's brilliant success as a Pyrrhic victory. But its full telling, in every respect, is there for all to read in 1967."—Harold Buchwald, Winnipeg Free Press

"Tom Segev's illuminating book, 1967: Israel, the War and the Year that Transformed the Middle East, brings clarity and context to this event. Segev, whose credits include 1949: The First Israelis and One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, reconstructs the 1967 era on the basis of government documents, military records, diaries and unpublished letters, and he tells the story with panache . . . Segev, an accomplished writer, fleshes it all out in this sweeping book."—Sheldon Kirshner, The Canadian Jewish News

"Today we know that Israel's triumph in 1967 was a Pyrrhic victory. Tom Segev's 1967 makes that more clear than anything written on the subject . . . Segev documents this historic tragedy brilliantly, authoritatively, as no one has before."—Amos Elon, Ha'aretz

"Tom Segev's 1967 offers a brilliant description of the Six Day War in its widest context: the international scene, the Middle Eastern confrontations, the political and social situation of Israel, as well as fascinating snippets of everyday life. The crucial role of individual actors is deftly woven into the general picture, the description of the military events is enthralling. This is probably the best book on those most fateful days in the history of Israel and the Middle East."—Saul Friedlander, author of The Years Of Extermination: Nazi Germany And The Jews, 1939-1945

"The year 1967 divides the history of Israel in two: what came before and what came after. Tom Segev's book makes this abundantly clear, and demonstrates the difference between a military victory and a political one."—Daniel Barenboim

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt



1. Yehiam

On June 5, 1966, in the evening hours, Yosef Weitz lit two candles in memory of his son, Yehiam, on the twentieth anniversary of his death. Weitz, who was seventy-six at the time, was the...

About the author

Tom Segev

Tom Segev is a columnist for Ha'aretz, Israel's leading newspaper, and the author of three now-classic works on the history of Israel: 1949: The First Israelis; The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust; and One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, which was a New York Times Editors' Choice for 2000. He lives in Jerusalem.

Tom Segev