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Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,004 ratings  ·  131 reviews
Interweaving the stories of a group of 1967 paratroopers who liberated Jerusalem, the acclaimed international journalist traces the history of Israel from the Six Day War to the present

In June 1967, Israel won a swift and decisive victory in the Six Day War. Many of the soldiers responsible for that triumph would become the nation's future leaders, including the young
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Harper (first published 2013)
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Naomi Not really. Its focus is more narrow, telling in depth the personal stories of the paratroopers who won back Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. However, in…moreNot really. Its focus is more narrow, telling in depth the personal stories of the paratroopers who won back Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. However, in telling that story, this excellent writer reveals much more about Israel and raises many questions. He is a brilliant thinker and doesn't take simplistic views. I have not finished the book so maybe I shouldn't answer, but it's a great read and certainly gives a great deal of information about the formation of Israel, the earliest citizens, and much, much more. I recommend! (less)

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May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, non-fiction
An exceptional piece of non-fiction, history, political science, and sociology, ... this may be the best -most balanced, nuanced, thought-provoking - book I've read about the modern State of Israel.

OK, OK, it's a hefty book, it's not light reading, it's not necessarily entertaining - indeed, much of the book's content is maddening, frustrating, profoundly depressing, sad, and, at times, heart-breaking - and it's not going to please or placate anyone with regard to who is right, who is wrong, or
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Like everything I have read about the history of modern Israel, it has been a difficult book to read. This book tells the story of Israel’s history by following the lives of soldiers in the 55th Paratroopers Brigade, the soldiers who liberated Jerusalem in the 6 day war. As the subtitle suggests, they “reunited Jerusalem and divided a nation.” Members of the paratroopers started as typical and diverse Israeli young men. Some were kibbutzniks, some just secular Jews, some sabras, some the ...more
Barry Sierer
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I originally started this book with the impression that this would be an account of the battle for Jerusalem during the six day war. It was of course so much more. Halevi follows of the journeys of several members of the 55th Parachute Brigade (Reserve) over several decades.

The men come from different backgrounds and each faces ideological and emotional transformations that pit their sense of what Israel should be versus what must actually be done to keep their country united. This dilemma
Pearl Mattenson
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Run to buy this book! If you lived through this time period-- you will not only re-live it with new insghts and context (not to mention fascination) but you will truly re-live the emotional turbulence of the times, If you have not lived through this period, I think this is one of the best explorations of Israel from 67-2000 I have read that will engage you and involve you. I dare you to walk away from this book indifferent.
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book I've read in years. No matter how much you read or know about what makes Israel 'tick', this book gives you that inside out perspective. The format forces you to pay attention though, and it's probably best to read in a few days if you can. Highly recommend.
Margaret Carmel
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you want to learn about modern Israel from an Israeli perspective, this is your book. I've never read a modern history of a nation this comprehensive, yet so personal in my entire life.

Like Dreamers is a stunning work of journalism that begins with the brigade of Israeli paratroopers that captured Jerusalem from Arab forces during the Six Day War in 1967 and follows them through the tumultuous course of Israeli history. The book begins as a gripping account of the war and the battle for the
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fabulous. Ten stars.

I've read several books on Israel at this point, and this is the one I've enjoyed most. Hands down. I wish I could write a review that would do it justice.

Yossi Klein Halevi traces the lives of several paratroopers from the Six Day War, and through introducing us to their stories, offers a great deal of insight into the development of right-wing and left-wing Israeli politics. The characters are interesting not only for their distinct personalities, achievements,
Zohar -
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Read Review at:

Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi is a non-fiction book which follows the footsteps of seven Israeli paratroopers who fought together and the different paths their lives took. Mr Halevi, son of a Holocaust survivor and a recovering extremist right ideologue.

The immediate thought I had when seeing Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited
Ellis Shuman
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are many ways to write the history of a nation. It is possible to describe the military campaigns and the political maneuvering in a very dry, detail-filled fashion, the way most history books record the passing of time. Or, alternatively, one can make history come alive by bringing the stories of the individuals involved to the forefront, highlighting their actions, thoughts, and fears in such a way that we feel we are living their experiences with them.

In Like Dreamers, author and
Rachelle Urist
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Brilliant. Yossi Klein Halevi nails it again, in this book that profiles the paratroopers who liberated the Western Wall and unified Jerusalem in 1967. Their triumph, hailed at the time as something akin to a miracle, also laid the grounds for the divisions that have grown since. The book's subtitle is: "the story of the Israeli paratroopers who reunited Jerusalem and divided a nation."

These paratroopers came from all walks of life: religious, secular, artistic, academic, military, leftist. All
Ben Pashkoff
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, zionism
RARELY have I read a book that so pulled me into the narrative that I wanted to put all others aside and be absorbed. RARELY have I read one that touched me on so many levels. The writing is at once personal and majestic, weaving at one time the personal stories of some truly remarkable people but bringing these stories into a close touch and weaving them into the breadth of history of Israel from 1967 until 1995. I do not know if I will ever have the stregth to go and re-read this again, but ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like Dreamers is not a definitive history of the Six Day War, of Israel, or the Arab-Israeli conflicts, but instead is a deeply personal exploration of the lives of individuals connected by this history. It is a wonderful book, worth reading by anyone interested in Israel and connected topics.

This is one of the several things I liked about how Halevi tells this story. While the major, famous names: Ben-Gurion, Rabin, Sharon, Begin, etc., are part of it, they are never the focus, never the
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. If you read one book about Israel, make this it. The range of voices and viewpoints is so wide and diverse that it’s impossible for you to agree with - or despise - every one, and that’s the point. It’s the first book on Israel’s history I’ve read that seems determined to illuminate every dark crevice and silver lining, every wart and miracle, without flinching from its subject’s impossible complexity and inevitable controversy.

“Of course Jews had
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
This book tells the stories of seven paratroopers liberated of the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordanian forces during the Six Day War of 1967. The book really does a good job immersing the into the mindset of the various Israeli sub-communities of the Seventies and Eighties by following the intimate details of their diverse experiences over that period.

However, I thought that the author didn’t do that very efficiently. It is well over 500 pages, and the author will sometimes go several pages
Kate Callen
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
I learnt a LOT more detail about modern Israeli history and how it ties together, as well as being reminded just how much perspective matters all the way through. Lots to think about here.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lorelei by: Eliyahu
Shelves: history
Wonderful story and mostly balanced narrative of our changing state.
Howard Tobochnik
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Memorable Quotes from Like Dreamers:

As Arab armies massed along Israel’s borders, demonstrators in the streets of Cairo and Damascus chanted “Death to Israel.” Yet the international community seemed indifferent. Even the United States, caught in an increasingly hopeless war in Vietnam, offered little more than sympathy. My father and I shared the same unspoken thought: again. Barely two decades after the Holocaust, the Jews were facing destruction again. Once again, we were alone. (xxi)

This is not so much a review of this book, but a reaction to it, albeit, from someone I don't think the author intended to read it. I'm neither an Israeli nor even a Jew. While I was once engaged to marry a self-described "Jewish princess" and I once studied Judaism in college, it would be best to discard the first fact -- it turns out it was a big misunderstanding...she didn't really like me -- and the college professor was emphatically biased toward Christianity and against every other ...more
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
With Israel much in the news this past year, many people find themselves in discussions about Israel’s founding and the evolution of Israeli politics since independence in 1948. One way to approach that history and to acquire a deeper understanding of today’s Israel is to read Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers.

Like Dreamers is an example of what is called social history. Instead of reporting on the main players in the main events, Like Dreamers tells the personal stories over forty plus years
Scott Gilman
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Can a small group of people, say, at first a few dozen, and then just a handful, represent the story of an entire country? And the dreams and hopes and failures and tribulations that are forever associated with that country and its citizens?

Like Dreamers is an epic, decade-spanning examination of members of the Israeli army paratrooper brigade that fought in the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War of 1967. That war resulted in the Old City being turned over from Jordanian control into
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: hatikvah
This book brought up many painful memories from the years I was affiliated with religious Zionism. I learned to avoid idealogues of all stripes, be they Marxists or Stalinists, religious kibbutniks or religious settlers, who knew the "truth" and, therefore, what everyone else should believe and how they should behave. ""It's interesting," replied Yehudit in her slow and thoughtful way, "that when the left turns extreme we produce traitors like Udi Aviv, and when the right turns extreme they ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is simply stunning. I've heard from some people that they don't like the way it jumps around among the different characters, but I actually really appreciate that style--it demonstrates how the characters all lived parallel and intersecting lives over the same period of time. There was so much history about Israel and Jerusalem that I didn't know before reading this book, and somehow the author managed to give me a thorough history lesson while also telling a story that flowed like a ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Filled with beautiful, personal, and insightful vignettes about the lives and times of some of the paratroopers who liberated the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, I still found this book unsatisfying. The journalist devotion of the author to not pass judgement leaves him more sympathetic to the perspectives that led to the Jewish extremism in the 1970's and eventually led to the Baruch Goldstein massacre and the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin. We cannot be careless with our ideologies.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, engrossing read. I have a much clearer picture of the forces at work in Israel today that make achieving peace with the Palestinians so daunting. The author does a brilliant job of illuminating the complexity of Israeli politics by tracing the individual lives of certain of the paratroopers who captured the Temple Mount and united Jerusalem.
Erika Dreifus
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-lit
I was given a copy of this book when it was published; I admit that I was intimidated initially by the array of "characters" presented at the outset. I picked the book up again this year for a few reasons, and I am so, so glad that I did.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Presents a range of different Israeli views of Israel, but tries so hard not to judge anyone that you don't really learn much from it. Interesting stories.
Linda Abraham
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating portrayal of Israel in the last 50 years.
Mitchell Gronowitz
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked up Like Dreamers hoping to get a detailed account of the six day war, but what I got instead was much more rewarding. Like Dreamers follows six paratroopers of the 55th brigade (they liberated/captured Jerusalem from the Jordanians) over four decades of Israeli history. Three paratroopers from a religious zionist background, and three from a secular kibutznik background.
All six lead different political and social lives, becoming leaders in different pivotal Israeli movements.

Julie Gray
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are curious about the history of the modern state of Israel, Like Dreamers will situate and give you an enormous amount of context and backstory. What I particularly respect is that Halevi allows the various threads of the book to spool out narratives that vary; the book is a love letter to Israel in the sense that Halevi does not condemn the difficult, sometimes painful episodes in Israeli history but nor does he idealize them. His work here is superb, layered, humane and wise. Like ...more
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-east
I listened to a podcast where Yossi Klein Halevi, the author, presented this book. I was going to read it, but there was a puzzle in my mind. He has lived in Israel for many years - probably more than 20 years. One of the observations he made was that he could not have written it before. I get it now. A deep appreciation of the history of Israel is required to treat with the various characters appropriately and present them in a respectful and caring manner. I have enjoyed thoroughly reading ...more
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Jewish Book Club: Like Dreamers 6 23 Feb 21, 2016 02:05PM  

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