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

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9781891620058: The Sword And The Olive: A Critical History Of The Israeli Defense Force

Published in the fiftieth anniversary year of the State of Israel, The Sword and the Olive is a complete history of one of the worlds most admired and most mythologized fighting forces. The Israeli Defense Force has long been one of the worlds preeminent fighting forces, often defeating its Arab neighbors against great odds. After tracing its historysurprising victories, aggressive battle tactics, and selfless patriotismvan Creveld takes a fresh look at the state of the IDF today. Is the Israeli military suffering from a collapse of morale? What factors make men and women either want to or refuse to fight? Will the IDF survive the current struggle for peace in the Middle East?

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Review:

Renowned defense expert Martin Van Creveld (author of Command in War) offers a comprehensive 20th-century military history of Israel, starting in 1907 with the organization of Jewish settler groups and concluding with the modern day. Much of the focus is on the Israeli Defense Force's glory years, roughly the quarter century from when Israel secured its independence in 1949, through the Six-Day War against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria (and their Soviet advisors) in 1967, to the October War against Egypt and Syria in 1973. Despite being massively outnumbered, Israel won smashing victories each time--and allowed many experts to claim that man for man, no army in the world was tougher than the one Israel put in the field. Van Creveld (himself an Israeli) celebrates these accomplishments, but is extremely critical of what has happened since: He compares Israel's bungled invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to the American experience in the Vietnam War and cites the Israeli military's various shortcomings in confronting the Palestinian Intifada. Morale in the armed forces is now at a low point, writes van Creveld, who disturbingly suggests that his country's apparent military invincibility may be a thing of the past. Whatever one thinks of this claim, few can doubt that The Sword and the Olive is an inspiring portrayal of courage and heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. --John J. Miller

About the Author:

Martin van Creveld is a military historian at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The author of The Transformation of War, which military historian Brian Bond called "the most important book on war we are likely to read in our lifetime," and many other influential books, van Creveld is the only foreigner ever to have work included on the list of obligatory readings for all US Army officers, and the only author-American or foreign-ever to have had two books on that list.

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