Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn

Concise might be the most significant word in this book’s title. Anyone looking for a detailed history of Israel will surely be disappointed by Daniel Gordis’ history; monumental events are summarized in a few pages of text (the 1947 United Nations partition plan for Palestine, for example, is reviewed in all of eight pages). At times, the almost casual handling of history feels similar to writing about the American Revolutionary War in a haiku.

To his credit, the author begins by admitting he is more interested in telling a story about Israel in the century after the Balfour Declaration than he is on analyzing historical details. And as a story, his book works very well — the narrative is fast-paced, the writing engaging, and the author allows the astounding history of this nation to speak for itself.

No single book about Israel could adequately represent all sides of the many controversies that have surrounded the country even before it was founded. Once again to his credit, Gordis openly admits his perspective — he views Israel as an imperfect but in the end honest and self-reflective nation, plagued by a seemingly endless struggle against its disingenuous and dangerous neighbors. In his Acknowledgments (well worth reading), the author states that many of his peer reviewers told him he had “given Israel a ‘pass’ in areas where much sterner critique was in order;” I’m no expert on this subject, but I agree with this sentiment. If you’re comfortable with a moderate yet partisan Israeli perspective, you’ll find Gordis’ book very readable — but if you’re looking for insights into the Palestinian or Arab perspectives, and particularly if you’ll be upset at their absence, you might want to look elsewhere.


One thought on “Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn

  1. Thank you. This book may indeed be worth following up.. When people like Asher Intrater Israeli born, historically connected for generation after generation speaks about Israel and his conversion to belief that the Messiah indeed did come with Jesus Christ he is listened to……..When former Islamic ie Palestinian, Saudia Arabian folks are listened to on the same platform (Shoeback)…. it is both exciting and impressive. However I like the scholarship outside this particular box. Many people indeed do have many perspectives. For example see the hatred levelled at Trump for his (unexpected decision to move the Embassy).Why? Indeed why? History is revealing answers. We must read, learn and LOOK. Really LOOK.

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