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The Sword And The Olive: A Critical History Of The Israeli Defense Force

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  109 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Combining razor-sharp analysis with dramatic narrative, vivid portraits of soldiers and commanders with illuminating discussions of battle tactics and covert actions, The Sword and the Olive traces the history of the IDF from its beginnings in Palestine to today. The book also goes beyond chronology to wrestle with the political and ethical struggles that have shaped the I ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published July 4th 2002 by PublicAffairs (first published August 1998)
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Ari
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
On the whole, this was a very good book. The material is interesting and well told.

Van Creveld is one of those historians who looks for popular notions to rebut, and he has many of them here. Perhaps precisely because he is a patriotic Israeli (particularly, a progressive one), he has lot of cheeky things to say about the IDF and Israeli society generally.

For example, van Creveld wants you to know that the early IDF borrowed its tactical doctrine from, as he delicately puts it, "the pre-1945 G
...more
John Connolly
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very good single-volume history of the IDF, incorporating the pre-state militias but unfortunately ending before the Second Intifada. It would be great to have an update.

It's very much a 'warts and all' portrayal, with perhaps too much emphasis on the 'warts.' Much attention paid to the blunders and lack of deep military education on the part of many senior officers, the demoralisation post-Lebanon and the First Intifada, and the political intrigue in the defence industry. Then again, the stor
...more
Justin
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
A much-needed corrective to the myth of Israeli military invincibility that has long held sway in the public imagination. A concise, lucid, raw and objective study of its subject by perhaps the world's greatest living writer of military analysis. Mr. van Creveld, in addition to having two of his books on West Point's required reading list, is a life-long resident of Israel, and has been on the faculty of Hebrew University of Jerusalem since 1971. ...more
Martin
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most of the Books about the Israel Defense Force are written by Adoring Journalists, Proud Former Member, or whining enemies- finally here we get an Academic Review of it's History- warts and all. Van Creveld points out that the IDF of 1997, when this book was written, is not the same dynamic and transformational force that Fought the 1967 or even the 1973 War. Instead, it is a force with more bureaucracy than ever before, a corrosive political force roiling within its officer corps, and deeply ...more
Tom
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I definitely enjoyed the book. It is about the history of Israels military and the process its gone through starting from the few Zionist's in the 1860s until the late 20th century. While a tricky read, the book is incredibly informative and also interesting. I don't think it's a book for everyone, because some parts might seem stale because of the many, many facts, however the book is very nuanced so it really makes a clear picture. While the author, being half Israeli half Dutch, and seeming l ...more
Matthew Dambro
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent but dated account of the IDF. It was first published in '98. It is a fascinating rendition of the history of the IDF from the pre-state days to the First Intifada. Dr. van Creveld tells the whole story warts and all. However, he becomes too pessimistic at the end. Israel, in fact, weathered both intifadas and the Hamas and Iranian proxies offensive since the book was written. There is much reason for hope that the IDF can handle any combination of Arab and/or Persian enemies. ...more
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Martin Levi van Creveld (born 5 March 1946) is an Israeli military historian and theorist.

Van Creveld was born in the Netherlands in the city of Rotterdam, and has lived in Israel since shortly after his birth. He holds degrees from the London School of Economics and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has been on the faculty since 1971. He is the author of seventeen books on military his
...more

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