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1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
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1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  316 ratings  ·  38 reviews
This history of the foundational war in the Arab-Israeli conflict is groundbreaking, objective, and deeply revisionist. A riveting account of the military engagements, it also focuses on the war's political dimensions. Benny Morris probes the motives and aims of the protagonists on the basis of newly opened Israeli and Western documentation. The Arab side—where the archive ...more
Hardcover, 524 pages
Published April 21st 2008 by Yale University Press (first published January 17th 1991)
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Community Reviews

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This was an excellent read, although sometimes heavier in quantitative military details than I would have personally liked. This is not a shortcoming of the book, but rather a lack of knowledge and interest on the part of the reader, as I was most interested in the political aspects of the 1948 war, as opposed to detailed information about every individual skirmish.

One of my favorite chapters of this book was the final conclusions chapter, where Morris urges Arabs and Palestinians to do the nece
Dowl Phin
I first read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe, one of the "Israeli New Historians" who looked at the archived materials from Cabinet meetings, politician diaries, Israel Defence Force orders etc... after they were eventually released forty years after 1948. I read Pappe following the a challenge by an politically anti-Israel Jewish friend of mine who teaches in Philosophy at UNSW.

I found Pappe's book painful as he outlined the atrocities committed by Israel - even though I was mi
Alex Goldstein
Понравилось. Ясное, четкое изложение, выглядит объективным - насколько это возможно, хотя взгляд на события скорее со стороны евреев.
Некоторые интересные моменты:
-в 36-39 годах палестинские арабы устроили восстание против англичан, были безжалостно разгромлены и раздавлены - лидеры изгнаны или арестованы, оружие изъято, самых активных участников поубивали и т.д. Поэтому когда пришел 47/48 год, у них значительная часть энергии и ресурсов уже была растрачена.
- война четко делится на 2 этапа - до 1
TR Peterson
Morris does a good job of exploring the various battles of the 1948 war in minute detail including excellent maps which make the troop movements, take overs and losses easy to follow, even for someone who is unfamiliar with the terrain.[return][return]He explores the reasons for the defeat of the armies of the surrounding Arab states, which include poor preparation, a lack of coherent ideology and lack of arms as opposed to the Yishuv which was literally fighting for its life.[return][return]It ...more
Bob Duke
Anything about the Arab Israeli conflict is always depressing reading. No matter which side of the divide you find yourself this is a worthwhile read. Benny Morris is an Israeli historian who counts himself as being on the left of Israeli politics as he supports a two state solution. It is most likely that people who support the Palestinians will find a lot of this book very objectionable. The Arab armies entering Palestine after the end of the mandate were sent there not so much the for the ben ...more
Christopher St
The only reason I don't give this book 5 stars is because there are lengthy sections laboring over the tactical details of the war which are simply not very entertaining. Unfortunately, as I have learned, the more thorough and unbiased the historical account, demerits are issued in the entertainment category.

However, this book earns 5 stars from me in all other areas. I consider myself an 'intermediate' in the realm of Israel/Palestine, having read a fair bit on the topic in the last year. I pu
The important quality for a researcher of recent history is impartiality. One is looking for an author that is true to the historical evidence, does not omit facts that contradict the narrative he is trying to depict, and justifies every claim that he makes (meaning that he does not base his perspective on obscure presuppositions).
If this is what you seek - look no further.
Though an Israeli, Benny Morris has a history of unearthing unpleasant truths (that is, unpleasant to Israelis) regarding th
Noah Dropkin
This is a very good history of the 1948 Israel War of Independence. It's really three "books" in one.

The first book is a summary of events leading up to the war. This beginning section is outstanding; a great synopsis of events that took place in Palestine prior to 1948. From this part we learn that some basic differences between the Palestinian population and the Jewish population set the stage for not only would happen in 1948 but perhaps presaged everything to this day. The Jewish Yishuv esta
A detailed account of the battles fought from late 1947 through early 1949 that began to define the Israeli state. The lack of cooperation amongst the Arab nations and the Palestinians combined with the Israeli planning and fight for their lives led to the outcome that was. Interesting read but a little too detailed for someone interested in the big picture and not so into which units and divisions faced off against this and that division and/or army. The Egyptians, for the most part, fought in ...more
Andrew Pessin
Five stars for thoroughness -- battle by battle, tank by tank, twenty-five pounder by twenty-five pounder, dead person by dead person, this is about EVERYTHING you want to know about the war. But it also has plenty of analysis and interpretation and gives you a very good sense, basically, of why it all happened, who's to blame, how to understand the atrocities, where the refugees came from, who's to blame for THAT, and so on. A nice bit, if small at the end, about the almost identical number of ...more
This is one of the most illuminating book on the war in 1948. Politics from both sides, and some of the other countries involved. I thought it was one of the best book I have read on this period of the establishment of the State of Israel.
To me it was riveting and I could hardly put it down. The battles and reasons for the Israeli actions in the war and the Palestinians reactions.
To me it was a very balanced book on this period of time.
As we humans can't ever be free of our biases it is only obvious to factor in author's biases while reading it. Book slightly gives a tiny to Jewish approach and tonality but the military battles are covered in extensive detail. For me the most interesting part of the internal dynamics, motivations and agendas of the Arab side - specially at the UN - which this book describes beautifully. A good read.
The most interesting bit of this book was not the overly detailed accounts of specific battles, but rather why the Arab/Muslim world reacted so strongly (e.g., refused to even consider a Jewish state). The 'street' as Morris termed it, essentially forced the hands of what were, at the time, extremely weak leaders in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. This book does not give a good idea of why this happened.

It is excellent at providing a detailed accounting of the specific events that have left us wh
This is one of the more balanced accounts of the first Arab Israeli war you'll find.

Morris may be an Israeli but he is very critical of Israel.

Morris is the Historian that wrote The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, exposing Israels part in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem.

Since the Second Intifada of 2000, Morris seems to have turned his attention to exposing aspects of Palestinian and Arab responsibility for their plight.

This culminates in a fairly balanced wor
Incredibly helpful in understanding the origins of the conflict in Israel.

Boring at times, with too much meaningless detail on specific battles, but overall extremely informative and relatively unbiased.
Mikey Galai
Well written, engaging, illuminating and depressing: the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict, from the late 19th century to the 1948 war make for an interesting read for the impartial reader and a depressing one for a participant
Provided interesting and critical details on a subject of significant importance to me and on an issue vital to establishing the truth on a disputed historical subject still affecting the world today. If not having lived in Israel and/or if not having solid knowledge of the basics, this book is not for the average or casual reader. Very detailed, well supported, and credible; a book you can trust-- the author does not draw conclusions or provide his opinions or bias. The reader gets the facts ne ...more
Very precise, though the style was dry. The FORMAT of the [Kindle] e-book is horrendous!
Feb 26, 2015 Maha rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: ib
الرائع بالكتاب التفاصيل الصغيرة التي ذكرها الكاتب عن كل معركة.
والسيء، هو وصف الكاتب لحرب ال بالحرب الأهلية، التي تدخل بها العرب وهم لا علاقة لهم بها.
وصف الحرب الأهلية، الذي لا يتوافق مع أحداث حرب ال إسوء ما يمكن أن يفعله مؤرخ يعتبر نفسه يريد إعادة كتابة تاريخ بلده.
هو يعيد كتابة تاريخ إسرائيل، بقول نفس الأمور التي تداولوها لسنين، والأن يضعها بقالب مختلف، وتحت إسم المؤرخين الجدد!
As usual in this region, the history is complex. Made me realize my understanding is pretty superficial. For example, long before the creation of Israel (after the Second World War), the Jews were buying property from the Arabs in the region to create a homeland. Far too complex to comment adequately. I didn't finish the book (another hold at the library) but it would be worth going back to. Made me realize how much I don't know ;-)
K. M.
Sep 29, 2010 K. M. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: test
Although the exhaustive details of battles and minor skirmishes can get tiring, the chapters on the lead up to the conflict, the depth of coverage on atrocities on both sides (but especially on the Israeli side, which he argues were larger and more frequent primarily due to lack of opportunity of the other side to carry out similar massacres), and the long term consequences for even minor events was truly impressive.
Jan 31, 2009 Jennifer is currently reading it
Considered a revisionist, non-romanticized history of the war for statehood, it appears to be a finely nuanced examination of the sides of the conflict, the dynamics of immigration under British occupation, the influence of the United States and the Soviet Union, and arab tribalism in contrast to Jewish nationalism.
Haotian Xu
You can't miss this book if you are looking to understand the "New" Israeli historians writing on Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Benny Morris is probably the most influential writer in the past few decades, and has sparked many debates thanks to both his thoroughness and his personal convictions.
Lazar Kleit
Very convoluted description of the battles of the 1948, and somewhat difficult to follow. The beginning and ending sections are excellent. Morris' gloomy view of the potential future of Arab & Jewish relations are well considered and likely accurate.
Most balanced and objective book on the subject that I have read. I highly recommend it as it endeavors to avoid judgement calls but to tell the events as they occurred with as much scholarly disinterest as possible.
Anthony Nelson
A very good, comprehensive history, if a bit dry.
Amos Kovacs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 15, 2009 Ron rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: war
Benny Morris provides a decent strategic look at the first Arab-Israeli war. Very few details of battles. The final chapter regarding conclusions and what may happen in the future was interesting.
May 21, 2008 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
As seen in David Remnick's "Blood and Sand" in the 5 May 2008 New Yorker.
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Benny Morris is professor of history in the Middle East Studies department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the city of Be'er Sheva, Israel. He is a key member of the group of Israeli historians known as the "New Historians".
More about Benny Morris...
Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1998 One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited The Road to Jerusalem: Glubb Pasha, Palestine and the Jews Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956: Arab Infiltration, Israeli Retaliation, and the Countdown to the Suez War

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“Thus, in the course of the civil war the Palestinian Arabs, besides killing the odd prisoner of war, committed only two large massacres-involving forty workers in the Haifa oil refinery and about iso surrendering or unarmed Haganah men in Kfar `Etzion (a massacre in which Jordanian Legionnaires participated-though other Legionnaires at the site prevented atrocities). Some commentators add a third "massacre," the destruction of the convoy of doctors and nurses to Mount Scopus in Jerusalem in mid-April 1948, but this was actually a battle, involving Haganah and Palestine Arab militiamen, though it included, or was followed by, the mass killing of the occupants of a Jewish bus, most of whom were unarmed medical personnel.
The Arab regular armies committed few atrocities and no large-scale massacres of POWs and civilians in the conventional war-even though they conquered the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and a number of rural settlements, including Atarot and Neve Ya`akov near Jerusalem, and Nitzanim, Gezer, and Mishmar Hayarden elsewhere.
The Israelis' collective memory of fighters characterized by "purity of arms" is also undermined by the evidence of rapes committed in conquered towns and villages. About a dozen cases-in Jaffa, Acre, and so on-are reported
in the available contemporary documentation and, given Arab diffidence about reporting such incidents and the”
“more tellingly, the AHC, local NCs, and various militia officers often instructed villages and urban neighborhoods near major Jewish concentrations of population to send away women, children, and the old to safer areas. This conformed with Arab League secretary-general Azzam's reported thinking already in May 194.6 ("to evacuate all Arab women and children from Palestine and send them to neighboring Arab countries," should it come to war)80” 0 likes
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