"What Should I Read?"

I’m often asked, What should I read if I want to get a book background on the situation in Israel? There is an endless amount to read, of course, but selected below are some of the most important books, and a couple of mine!  To be sure, there are many things here that I don’t agree with, but that’s not the point.  The point is to get a sense of the variety of perspectives out there, some history, some politics, some philosophy, and the like.  Read even a decent portion of these, and you’ll know more than 99% of the people out there.


History of Israel and of Zionism

Avner, Yehuda.  The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership (Toby Press, 2010)

Begin, Menachem.  The Revolt (Dell, 1978)

Elon, Amos.  Herzl (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975)

Elon, Amos. The Israelis: Founders and Sons (Penguin 1983)

Fromkin, David.  A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (Holt 2001)

Gilbert, Martin. Israel: A History (Black Swan, 2008)

Goldhill, Simon.  Jerusalem: City of Longing (Harvard University Press, 2010)

Hertzberg, Arthur.  The Zionist Idea (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1997)

Laquer, Walter.  A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of The State Of Israel (Knopf Doubleday, 2004

Morris, Benny.  1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War (Yale University Press, 2008)

Oren, Michael B.  Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Ballentine, 2003)

Segev, Tom.  One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (Picador, 2001)


The Conflict

Bard, Mitchell.  Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict (AICE, 2003)

Dershowitz, Alan.  The Case for Israel (Wiley, 2003)

Dershowitz, Alan.  The Case against Israel’s Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others who Stand in the Way of Peace (Wiley, 2009)

Gilbert, Martin.  Atlas of the Arab Israeli Conflict (Oxford University Press, 1993)

LaGuardia, Anton.  Holy Land-Unholy War (Penguin, 2008)

Lozowick, Yaacov.  Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel’s Wars (Anchor, 2004)

Morris, Benny.  Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict 1881-1998 (Vintage, 2001)

Morris, Benny.  One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict (Yale University Press, 2010)

Netanyahu, Benjamin.  A Durable Peace: Israel and Its Place Among the Nations (Grand Central Publishing, 2000)

Parkes, James.  Whose Land? (Taplinger, 1971)

Peters, Ralph.  Endless War: Middle Eastern Islam vs. Western Civilization (Stackpole, 2010)

Ross, Dennis.  The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 2005)

Shepherd, Robert.  A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel (Orion, 2009)

Life in Israel

Cohen, Asher and Bernard Susser.  Israel and the Politics of Jewish Identity (Johns Hopkins: 2000)

Gordis, Daniel.  Home to Stay: One American Family’s Chronicle of Miracles and Struggles in Contemporary Israel (Three Rivers Press, 2003)

Halevi, Yossi Klein.  At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: a Jew’s Search for Hope With Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land (Harper Perennial, 2002)

Rosenthal, Donna.  The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land (Free Press: 2005)

Segev, Tom.  The Seventh Million: The Israeli’s and the Holocaust (Picador 2000)



Gordis, Daniel.  Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End (Wiley, 2009)

Hazony, Yoram.  The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s Soul (Basic, 2001)

Ravitzky, Aviezer.  Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism (University of Chicago, 1996)



The Arab World

Ajami, Fouad.  Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation’s Odyssey (Vintage, 1999)

Berman, Paul. The Flight of the Intellectuals (Melville, House 2010)

Lewis, Bernard. The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror (Random House, 2004)

Maghen, Ze’ev.  John Lennon and the Jews: A Philosophical Rampage (Create Space, 2010)

Said, Edward.  The Edward Said Reader (Vintage, 2000)

Jewish Life in the Diaspora

Julius, Anthony.  Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England (Oxford Press, 2010)


Israel’s Economic Flourishing

Gilder, George.  The Israel Test (Richard Vigilante, 2009)

Senor, Dan and Saul Singer.  Start Up Nation: the Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle (Twelve, 2009)


Historical Fiction

Collins, Larry and Dominique LaPierre.  O Jerusalem (Simon and Schuster, 1972)

Oz, Amos.   A Tale of Love and Darkness (Harcourt, 2004)

Sabato, Haim.  Adjusting Sights (Toby Press, 2003)

Shalev, Meir.  A Pigeon and a Boy (Shocken Books, 2007)

Uris, Leon.  Exodus (Bantam, 1959)


General Fiction and Literature

Amichai, Yehuda.  Poems of Jerusalem and Love Poems — A Bilingual Edition (Sheep Meadow Press, 1981)

Bialik, C.N.  Selected Poems (Overlook Duckworth Books, 2005)

Brendon, Piers. The Dark Valley (Vintage, 2002)

Grossman, David.  To the End of the Land (Knopf, 2010)

Sabato, Haim.  From the Four Winds (Toby Press, 2010)

Yehoshua, A.B. and Stuart Schoffman.  Friendly Fire: A Duet (Mariner, 2009)