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Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  2,384 ratings  ·  190 reviews

Though it lasted for only six tense days in June, the 1967 Arab-Israeli war never really ended. Every crisis that has ripped through this region in the ensuing decades, from the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to the ongoing intifada, is a direct consequence of those six days of fighting. Michael B. Oren’s magnificent Six Days of War, an internationally acclaimed bestseller, is
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Published (first published June 6th 2001)
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My actual, literal, fake-wood-and-screw bookshelf has two shelves devoted to unread books that I have accumulated, and continue to accumulate at a fantastic pace. (Thanks a lot, cheap white wine and Amazon’s one-click shopping!)

The downside to my book hoarding is that it is used against me, every time my wife shows up in a new pair of shoes or boots or moccasins. Yes, moccasins. And whenever we get into an argument, she stands near the shelf with a sheath of matches. Cackling. (So, that might be
Aug 25, 2009 Joeji rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people for whom 7 days is just way too long for a war
New review: Aug 09

Since I have been spending the last year reading about Israel and Palestine, I may now class this book as shameless and apologetic when it comes to Israeli militarism. My review below is shameless in many ways and I'm a bit embarrased about it. Oren says he is givng everyone equal treatment, but how can you be Israeli embassador to the US and not be biased?

This book supports Israel myths about itself and its military might and does little to acknowledge that the 1967 war was p
This is a wonderfully concise, well-written history of the war between Israel and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan that lasted only six days in June 1967. The Arabs got pounded, and Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. The war, though won by Israel, also brought that country decades of additional strife that continues to this day. It also made the Arab nations more determined to wipe out the Jewish state.

Oren has written a fair history, with all sides presented
I read this in a flash a few years ago. It isn't a social history nor is it investigative. It yields a basis for an ideology. I accept that. I just read this review and it upset my indifference. What can I say? I'm exhausted.
Aug 18, 2009 Mahlon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mahlon by: Tal Amiel
Shelves: read-2009
Michael B. Oren's Six Days of War is probably the most comprehensive book published on Israel's 1967 conflict with the Arab world to date. Painstakingly researched and scrupulously fair, Oren's strength is dealing with the causes and effects of the war. He discusses every diplomatic move and counter-move that the belligerent countries and their superpower allies (the U.S. and U. S. S. R.) made, and how those decisions impact Middle East policy to this day. Oren is noticeably weaker when discussi ...more
Jan 20, 2009 Schoolplus added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Schoolplus by: Tamar
This is a very interesting book about Israel-Arab war. Because our generation witnessed this war and not looking at it only in retrospect it is especially interesting for me. I still clearly remember all propaganda Soviets conducted at that time... I remeber wwhat was written at that time in Soviet newspapers and what was broadcasted...
In a century I believe the military historians will compare this war with the most famous wars in all times. The book has a lot of not “everyone knows” details, a
Steve Kettmann
My review published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002:

A necessary light
'Six Days' goes far to help sort out Mideast conflict's tangled web
Reviewed by Steve Kettmann

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Six Days of War

June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

By Michael B. Oren

OXFORD; 446 PAGES; $30

It's a natural impulse to seek distance when confronted with a seemingly hopeless spiral of violence. That's what Preside
Michael Gerald Dealino
I once wondered how Israel could have survived and even won wars against its belligerent Arab neighbors. When I read this book, it became clearer.

Israel won not just because of its sense of systemic vulnerability, its discipline, and technological superiority; it won also because of its enemies' incompetence and divisiveness. They may have been superior in numbers, but they were so arrogant, divided, and disingenuous that one wonders if they were really determined to defeat Israel or just screw
This was a book I'd been meaning to read for a very long time, and one that sat on my (virtual) shelf for nearly two years. I'd bought it on a lark back then, and my expectations going into it now were that it would be a detailed, unbiased telling of the 1967 Middle Eastern conflict, and that it would live up to the subtitle and draw connections to contemporary personalities and events (from 2002, when it was published). I'd say it met those expectations for the most part as a narrative, but I'm ...more
Dec 22, 2009 K rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with a serious interest in the Six Day War
Recommended to K by: Eli Duker
Five stars with a caveat -- you have to really, really want to learn about the Six Day War in order to get through this book without succumbing to the temptation to skim or abandon it. It's an impressive work, no question, and highly educational. If I wanted to write a dissertation on the Six Day War in particular, or even on Israeli history in general, I would probably view this book as a godsend. As a mere layperson with an average level of curiosity, I found it a bit overwhelming. It was read ...more
Simon Wood

Michael Oren (between bouts in the Israeli Defence Forces disseminating the Israeli point of view for the media) has apparently written this majesterial and impartial history of the 1967 war. By strange coincidence it more or less absolves the Israelis from starting the war. Apparently they werent even interested in seizing territories it just kinda happened!

Having almost as many footnotes as Joan Peters ground breaking "From Time Immemorial
This book is a comprehensive and informative history of the events leading up to and during the 1967 war. Oren launches the book with descriptions of the problematic and exhaustingly complicated relations between Arab states that illustrate why nothing in the Middle East ever makes sense. Though Oren claims the book is an objective history, it's clear that his narrative favors Israel's cause: Oren exposes in depth the troublesome moral issues plaguing each member of the Israeli cabinet, but the ...more
Here ya go Ivy - If you are a history buff this is a good book about what was a pivotal event in the Middle East and it really set the course for the years that followed. It is very Israel centric, but it is hard not to be when they won with so many forces aligned against them. It gets a bit technical and there are a fair amount of players involved. Interesting to see how the cold war played a role in the run up to war as well. I was always under the assumption that Egypt, Syria and Jordan struc ...more
I really enjoyed this book.

It combined personal with military, strategic and political.

It got 4 starts because sometimes I wanted just a little more analysis and a little less military strategy / play by play. He does a nice job of tying some things together at the end but it might have been easier to follow if he'd spent a little more time on the through lines. Someone who is used to reading military / political accounts might have found it easier to follow.

There were several times I found mys
Egyptian and Syrian military incompetence and the sense that Israel's back was against the wall; these were my impressions of the war as it was acted out. Ambassador Oren's narrative confirms those vague impressions, but he also provides the detail to flesh out the story. Nervous breakdown, fog of war, big-power politics and numerous other features are added to provide a clear picture of this uniquely short war that is still going on. With maps handy (I used MapQuest's terrain and satellite maps ...more
Tim Swift
Six days of war is a detailed history and account of the Arab - Israeli war of 1967. It is serious history, drawing on an extensive range of sources from all the participants, so far as that is possible. That does not mean, of course, that it's approach and conclusions are uncontested when dealing with such an emotive and complex field.

Oren places the source of the war in its complex context; Syrian aggression; Nasser's need for political success after his influence had waned in the Arab world,
The author has clearly bitten more than he can chew by attempting to write a comprehensive history of the 1967 war which will give a balanced emphasis between military & political facets and make good use of the recently declassified information and above all will be unbiased to any of the belligerent. He more or less failed to achieve these broadly defined goals.

Israeli Defence Force’s (IDF) spectacular performance and strategic brilliance in this war, comparable to Germany’s invasion of F
A thrilling account of the Six-Day War, the politics, the diplomacy and the battles surrounding it. The author does a fair job of trying to report facts rather then opinions - especially important considering the extremely polarized debate on the Arab-Israeli issue; nevertheless the author did serve as the Israeli ambassador to the United States so definitely take Oren's objectivity with a grain (or pinch) of salt. I would say the context he crates makes it impossible to root for any other count ...more
Dorian Santiago
I began to read this book at a stunningly apt moment. The day before I decided to open the first page of this work and add it to my ever-growing to-read list on the fiery mess (to put it gently) of Middle Eastern affairs within the past century, I came across several articles regarding Michael Oren's strong convictions over practically any and all criticism against the current Israeli government. Before looking into his recent, public claims that are laden with ethnocentric sentiment, I was prep ...more
John Betts
Just finished this great audiobook on a pivotal Middle Eastern war that still impacts us today. Very thorough look at the people on all sides and the war itself. While no one can be said to have clean hands in this conflict, I was struck by how the worst enemy of the Arab states in the conflict wasn't Israel but actually themselves. Their catastrophic defeat by such a smaller state is easy to see now in hindsight because of their extremely poor logistics, lack of properly trained forces, etc., b ...more
Patrick Belair
I, think that Michael B. Oren has created a classic in the story on the Six Days War that will be very hard to beat.With first hand interviews from all sides involved. It is a must read for all modern middle east studies.
Eric Smith
It's quite thorough, and as someone who didn't know a lot going in I feel my knowledge base has improved significantly. I was disappointed in the quality of the maps. Lots of arrows moving across featureless terrain doesn't give the reader an appreciation for why certain areas were more important than others. It was also fascinating to see how the Jordanians came across very well while the Soviets clearly facilitated the war through their bungling. In this respect the author pulled his punches u ...more
Been a while since I read this, but it was an outstanding book about the Six Day War, how it started, the cast of characters, who screwed up and who didn't. Author explains everything nicely and is very objective about reporting about the war. Obviously, some people will disagree with me, but this is more than history being written by the winners; it's fact. It's fact that the Israelis were pushed into the war, by their neighbors, and it's fact that they managed to beat off Syria, Jordan (who wa ...more
Serge Boucher
This book is seen as the definitive account of arguably the most influential conflict of since world war II, which is reason enough to read it all by itself. It's very good, not perfectly objective maybe, but even then reading it is going to be a learning experience for all but those who're already experts on the subject. As for bias, I recommend reading Norman Finkelstein's review in addition to the book (, together they trace a clear and hopefully objecti ...more
Jennifer Zartman
In reading this book I learned a tremendous amount about the ongoing conflict between the Arabs and Israelis as well as the war itself. Michael Oren shines as a historical storyteller, and I had difficulty putting the book down during the later chapters. The opening chapters lacked the engrossing thrill, but they gave necessary background and enabled the reader to enter into the nearly unbearable tension that the men involved experienced.

Of necessity this book boasts a "cast of thousands," and I

The world was created in 6 days, and so was modern Israel. This paean to Jewish hardiness, perseverance, cunning and pragmatism is, at the blurb-level, about the shortest war during the Baby Boomer generation. But the heart and motivation of this book, by author Michael Oren, the sitting Israeli ambassador to the United States, is about existential rights; i.e., who is the rightful owner, landlord and tenant of the dry and weary land which holds Jerusalem at its center.

This is the tale of a week

Half of the Six Days of War begins with the context, the diplomatic, and political crisis that would eventually lead to the conflict. The other half is the war itself. The immediate causes were the build-up of Egyptian troops in the Sinai Peninsula, in response to Soviet intelligence that Israel was gathering troops north for a possible invasion of Syria. Egypt and Syria had recently signed a defense pact, and historically, Egypt and Syria were once aligned under the UAR (United Arab Republic), ...more
Michael Burnam-fink
Six Days of War is a comprehensive, deeply researched, if not exactly unbiased account of the Six Day War. An Israeli academic (and subsequently Ambassador to America), Oren mostly reiterates the consensus Jewish position that the Six Day War was a righteous triumph for the Jewish state; one which secured its place on the global stage while failing to resolve basic issues such as Arab acceptance of Israel, or the future of the Palestinian people.

This book is a day by day, sometimes hour by hour
After 9-11 and during Enduring Freedom, the reading public fixated on a slew of books on terrorism, Islam, and the Middle East, producing some bestsellers that otherwise would not have received that status or, worse, did not deserve it in the first place. But Oren's excellent book richly deserved its bestseller status and, one hopes, would have been widely read had there not been high interest in 2002 (the war's thirty-fifth anniversary).
Oren opens with the background to the conflict, particular
Although Oren’s masterful narrative concentrates on the 1967 war between Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria he is careful to put the war in the context of conflicts that erupted in 1948, 1956 and continued after the June 1967, conflicts that continue to this day. In addition to the actual fighting he gives a comprehensive diplomatic history on the events that led up to the war. He includes all of the participants: Arab, Israeli, Soviet, American, the United Nations and their leaders, the internal ...more
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Michael B. Oren (born 1955) is an American-born Israeli scholar, historian, author and former Israeli ambassador to the United States. Oren has published books, articles and essays on the subject of Middle Eastern history, and is the author of the best-selling Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, which won the Los Angeles Times History Book of the Year Award. Oren h ...more
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“It is rather like arguing with an Irishman,” wrote Michael Hadow of his many conversations with Dayan. “He enjoys knocking down ideas just for the sake of argument and one will find him arguing in completely opposite directions on consecutive days.” Indeed, Dayan was a classic man of contradictions: famed as a warrior, he professed deep respect for the Arabs, including those who attacked his village, Nahalal, in the early 1930s, and who once beat him and left him for dead. A poet, a writer of children’s stories, he admitted publicly that he regretted having children, and was a renowned philanderer as well. A lover of the land who made a hobby of plundering it, he had amassed a huge personal collection of antiquities. A stickler for military discipline, he was prone to show contempt for the law. As one former classmate remembered, “He was a liar, a braggart, a schemer, and a prima donna—and in spite of that, the object of deep admiration.” Equally contrasting were the opinions about him. Devotees such as Meir Amit found him “original, daring, substantive, focused,” a commander who “radiated authority and leadership [with] … outstanding instincts that always hit the mark.” But many others, among them Gideon Rafael, saw another side of him: “Rocking the boat is his favorite tactic, not to overturn it, but to sway it sufficiently for the helmsman to lose his grip or for some of its unwanted passengers to fall overboard.” In private, Eshkol referred to Dayan as Abu Jildi, a scurrilous one-eyed Arab bandit.” 0 likes
“For the mass of Israelis not involved in these power plays, however, the ordeal was all-consuming. Throughout the country, thousands were hurrying to dig trenches, build shelters, and fill sandbags. In Jerusalem, in particular, schools were refitted as bomb shelters, and air raid drills were practiced daily. Most buses and virtually all taxis were mobilized, and an emergency blood drive launched. An urgent request for surgeons—“in view of the tough conditions they must be physically fit and experienced”—was submitted to the Red Cross, and extra units of plasma ordered from abroad. Special committees were placed in charge of gathering essential foodstuffs, for replacing workers called to the front, and for evacuating children to Europe. Upward of 14,000 hospital beds were readied and antidotes stockpiled for poison gas victims, expected to arrive in waves of 200. Some 10,000 graves were dug.15” 0 likes
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