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

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  2,964 Ratings  ·  225 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 it was ok  ·  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
Aug 18, 2009 Mahlon rated it it was amazing
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
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
May 29, 2014 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Steve Kettmann
May 02, 2010 Steve Kettmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 31, 2016 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging, comprehensive and balanced day-by-day history of the Six Day War that puts it into the context of the wider Cold War, with more of a focus on the war’s politics and diplomacy than the battles.

Oren ably presents Nasser’s role in the lead-up to the war, describing his role in forcing the UN out of the Sinai and to illegally closing the Tiran strait to Israeli shipping, which amounted to an act of war by every observer. Oren then covers Israel’s search for an effective and legitimate m
Dec 08, 2014 Hrishi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Simon Wood
Feb 07, 2014 Simon Wood rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

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
Michael Gerald
Apr 06, 2015 Michael Gerald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 22, 2009 K rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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.
Dec 05, 2007 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mid-east
Reads like an action novel but it's all true. The best history of the six-day war I have read. Covers all the major players and conflicting motivations. Outstanding.
Justin Tapp
I read this book after reading Ari Shavit's My Promised Land and Abuelaish's I Shall Not Hate, as well as Paul Johnson's A History of the Jews. 1967 seems to be such a pivotal moment both in Israeli and Arab psyche and had wider implications in the perspective of the Cold War. I agree with those who call "lazy" the pundits who claim the rise of Islamic fundamentalism finds its roots in the disappointment of 1967. As usual, reality is more complicated than that. One resource website I found while ...more
Omar Ali
Jun 16, 2016 Omar Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent history of the 1967 war, and even more useful as a source of information about the months leading up to the war. It is written from a pro-Israeli perspective, but facts are not cherry-picked or outright falsified (as is common in more ideological books, from both the Left and the Right). Every important detail (and some unimportant ones..the book is long) is covered and the bias (if any) is limited to careful word choice or perspective, and does not extend to misreporting the "hard ...more
Dec 23, 2016 Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. It is a really deep dive into the events of June 1967. Written in 2003, it covers the run-up to the war and the Staits of Tiran Crisis at a level that reveals the author read almost everybody's mail. and then the tic toc of the war is covered with a depth that also show how well he has researched this work with the generals. There is some great still interesting analysis at the end and a good range of photos and maps. I have read at least 20 book on this topic/era and t ...more
Joseph Stieb
Nov 19, 2016 Joseph Stieb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audio-booked this one with a great British narrator. This is a comprehensive, panoramic, and very well-sourced history of a pivotal conflict in Middle Eastern history. Oren has really done his homework: he presents the decision making and personalities on all sides of the conflict: Egypt, Israel, the USSR, the US, Syria, and Jordan. It is pretty detailed, and people who don't like diplomatic history that cycles through decision-making, Cabinet meetings, and military reports probably won't love t ...more
Erez Davidi
Feb 05, 2016 Erez Davidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Six Day War was an exceptionally short war in a long world history of short conflicts, and yet many books were written on it. So what new light can another history book shed about it? “Six Days of War” does not, indeed, provide any new information that wasn’t revealed before, though the author does have access to Russian sources that have only been available for a dozen or so years. Having said that, this is one of the most comprehensive books written about this short, yet full of events, wa ...more
Stephen Miller
Dec 01, 2015 Stephen Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I'd stopped reading halfway through (which, initially, I did) I would have given this one 2-3 stars as a fairly dry, fairly routine, heavily detailed account of the buildup to the Six Years War. It was interesting politically, but seemed to go in circles.

Then the actual war breaks out, and the book really takes on a life of its own. I primarily listened to this, and found the last ~9 hours, or 5 chapters, extraordinarily gripping. Michael B. Oren isn't making any controversial statements here
Nov 26, 2010 Jackie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ben Pashkoff
Aug 19, 2015 Ben Pashkoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, zionism
Notes from this:
- Michael Oren IS a professional Historian, and this shows in this and his other books. He tries to not make judgements, but rather to display the facts (as he has perceived them) and explain a passage of history.
- It might be said that Israel almost did not win the 6-day war so much as the Arabs lost it. The jealousy, the bickering, the internal fighting and the self-deluding all contributed to a loss.
- NOW - it is incredible to drive by and see some of the sites of the battles
Jan 28, 2013 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen R Goodman
Excellent historical rendering of a series of events that have shaped Middle Eastern countries to this day

Excellent historical rendering of a series of events that have shaped Middle Eastern countries to this day. Good text for the high school classroom.
Mar 19, 2012 Remo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historia, 2006, militar

La guerra de los seis días tuvo lugar entre el 5 y el 10 de junio de 1967. Enfrentó a Israel contra Egipto, Jordania y Siria. Fue una guerra relámpago en la que la acción inicial israelí pilló por sorpresa a los egipcios, determinando el rumbo de la guerra.

La historia de enfrentamientos en Próximo Oriente no tiene un origen claro. Podríamos decir que se odian desde siempre y no habría una manera clara de rebatirlo. El autor, cuando analiza las causas del conflicto en el primer capítulo, se deja

Jan 17, 2017 Chad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book with the hope of gaining a batter understanding of the Israel-Arab conflict. Although I'm not done studying the topic, this book provided a good foundation. The author starts with Zionism,which really gained traction, or started to, in the late 19th century. I was impressed by some of the details about the war and communications that the author was able to quote. Both Israel and Arab viewpoints are discussed. I felt like I learned more about the Jews point of view than the Arabs ...more
Nov 29, 2016 Alyssa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A good book, but not a good introduction into Israeli/Palestinian conflict or the history of the region in general. As you might guess from the title, it does invest heavily in the military history aspect of things. I felt the analysis of how the conflict shaped the modern Middle East was a little light but that might be because I don't have much expertise in this area. Overall a good read but it will probably be most valuable to people who already have a good general knowledge of Israeli histor ...more
Liz Kottich
Nov 01, 2016 Liz Kottich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book that describes all the moving parts that led up to and contributed to the Six Day War. Oren does a great job of including everything that happened in every country involved. The interference of the Soviet Union and the lack of action on the part of the United States is told alongside the actions of Israel and its aggressors. A more complete description of the entire war, including the lead-up and the aftermath, I have not read.
John Rhoads
Dec 06, 2016 John Rhoads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Second reading was in-depth and more revealing

First time through I was looking for a little bit of history I was privy too. I found it, but really needed to study the detailed accounting author Oren offers up in the full context of the whole story. Was really impressed with the military planning that led Israelis throughout the war. Dayon has always been a hero of mine.
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Michael B. Oren (Hebrew: מיכאל אורן; born Michael Scott Bornstein on May 20, 1955) is an American-born Israeli historian, author, politician, former ambassador to the United States (2009–2013), and current member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party and the Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office.

Oren has written books, articles, and essays on Middle Eastern history, and is the
More about Michael B. Oren...

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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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