In the late 1940s, David Ben-Gurion founded a unique military society: the state of Israel. A powerful defense establishment came to dominate the nation, and for half a century Israel’s leaders (bound by martial traditions and stern resolve never to lose sight of the Holocaust, and armed with a secret arsenal of nuclear weapons and the most powerful conventional army in the Middle East) have relished continuous war with the Arabs and an unblinking determination to prevail.
Fortress Israel is an epic portrayal of state militarism overpowering democracy and civilian government—of Sparta presenting itself as Athens. Patrick Tyler takes us inside the tough culture of native-born militants: the sabras, named for an especially rugged species of cactus. He shows generals who make decisions that trump those of elected leaders, generals who disdain diplomacy as a sign of weakness, and statesmen who make peace deals with their neighbors so that they can make arms deals with America. Tyler argues that this martial outlook makes Israel loath to achieve peace with the Muslim world even if it is possible to do so.
Based on a breathtakingly broad array of sources, declassified documents, personal archives, and interviews across the spectrum of Israel’s ruling class, Fortress Israel is a powerful story of character, rivalry, conflict, and the competing impulses for war and for peace.
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)|
About the Author
Patrick Tyler worked for twelve years at The Washington Post before joining The New York Times in 1990, where he served as chief correspondent. His books include Running Critical, A Great Wall (which won the 2000 Lionel Gelber Prize), and A World of Trouble. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
They do that military thing to defend themselves as they are vastly outnumbered and outgunned by people who want them all dead, including women and children.
The author is on an anti-semitic rant. He makes a poor attempt to justify Palestinian terrorism. This book is racism with a veneer of intellectualism to justify his narrow minded view.
The headlines over the past week have described an ongoing exchange of missiles between Israel and Hamas. It doesn't matter what day I wrote / posted this review – this isn't the first time something like this has occurred, and I doubt that there's anyone alive who believes it will be the last. In “Fortress Israel”, Patrick Tyler reviews the history of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors – and residents – going back to its founding in 1948. Readers who subscribe to the opinion that poor Israel is always getting picked on by those darned Arabs will probably hate this book. It makes a strong case that having geared up for a war mentality, the state and its leaders have a difficult time conceiving that there could be another option. It is important to stress that he presents a well documented argument that this stance applies to the government and not its citizens as a group. Having read that previous paragraph, some potential readers that believe Israel is the devil incarnate sent to test the poor Arabs might rush out to grab this book, believing that they've finally found someone who clearly and sympathetically describes their viewpoint to the masses. These people will also be disappointed, for Mr. Tyler does not claim that anyone else in the region is blameless – not Egypt, not Syria, not the PLO or any other group claiming, justifiably or not, to represent the Palestinian people. This book is quite lengthy, documenting the events and decisions that led up to the various wars fought by Israel. However, the book does not spend much time documenting the actual wars themselves – fans of non-fiction war books will probably be disappointed. In my opinion, anyone willing to approach the situation in the Middle East with an open mind, who do not subscribe to the stances produced by the propaganda experts on either side of this contentious situation, will find a lot to think about in this book. Even then, “agree with” is probably too much to expect for everything covered in this book. I suspect that Mr. Tyler would consider his efforts to be a success if someone read the book, thought about it, and then disagreed with everything he wrote – as long as the “thought about it” part was sincere. RATING: A solid 4 stars, and I was sincerely tempted to toss in an extra 1/2 star. DISCLOSURE: I won this book in a contest; winners were encouraged to review the book, but there was no requirement to do so (nor, of course, was there any attempt to influence the rating).