Archives for December 2017

Four Books I Read in November 2017

Sharon’s Bridgehead: How Did [the] Israeli Army Turn Defeat into Victory – written by Uri Dan

This account of Sharon’s part in the Yom Kippur war is riveting. Uri Dan was there and captures the moment. A couple of recent biographies of Sharon have not been so flattering of him, especially regarding his years as a politician. Thus, Sharon’s Bridgehead was a refreshing read. It reminded me of how crucial his role was. Without him Israel probably would not have crossed the Canal. Although I strongly believe the war would not have had a relatively positive outcome without Chief of Staff, David Elazar, it is also clear that Sharon was the catalyst for success in the Sinai. I can’t emphasize how good a read this simple book is.  You certainly come away with the feeling of what it was like to be there.

House of Spies – Written by Daniel Silva

I got started late reading Daniel Silva novels. But late is better than never. Thank you David for suggesting that I read them. Although they all seem to follow the same formula as it follows the machinations of Israel’s #1 spy, Gabriel Allon, they never cease to entertain. As such, the Silva novels are a great break between my normal heavy non-fiction load. 

False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East – Written by Steven A. Cook

For me, the book was a must read. But for most, including myself, it is a bit of a slog. Having read it, I certainly have a greater appreciation for what the Arab Spring was, and was not. That is important for me given my interest in the region and my desire to write books about Israel’s challenges and history. However, for most, I fear that they will give up before finishing. In the desire to be comprehensive, the author slings details and names at the reader at a dazzling pace, but fails to do so in a manner easy to digest. Thus, it is hard to get excited about what was exciting and perilous times.

Culloden: Scotland’s Last battle and the Forging of the British Empire – Authored by Trevor Royle

I purchased this book with the hope of diving deeply into the battle of Culloden. My hopes were raised then dashed as I read deeply into the book. Out of 360 pages, only seventeen pages are directly devoted to the battle. The rest details many events and introduces a multitude of personalities leading up to the battle. I was willing to persevere though that because I thought it would lead to the same type of detail about the battle itself. Having walked the battlefield, I thought my understanding would be increased by a detailed description. Royle’s book failed to deliver. Instead, the last 160 pages of the book followed the careers of the many officers that served the British at Culloden. While that might be interesting to those devoted to British history over the last half of the eighteenth century, I found it a slog.