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Six Days of War

June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
Written by: Michael B. Oren
Narrated by: Robert Whitfield
Length: 17 hrs and 53 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In Israel and the West, it is called the Six Day War. In the Arab world, it is known as the June War or, simply, as "the Setback". Never has a conflict so short, unforeseen, and largely unwanted by both sides so transformed the world. The Yom Kippur War, the war in Lebanon, the Camp David accords, the controversy over Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the intifada, and the rise of Palestinian terror are all part of the outcome of those six days of intense Arab-Israeli fighting in the summer of 1967.

Michael B. Oren spotlights all the participants: Arab, Israeli, Soviet, and American, as well as all the world leaders involved in this earth-shaking clash that transformed the world.

©2002 Michael B. Oren (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the critics say

"Oren is not only a lucid, compelling writer, but reader Robert Whitfield is a master at narrative drive through intonation alone. The listener cannot put this book down. A triumph." (AudioFile)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tim
  • 2006-04-05

Really 2 Books in One . . .

In reality, this book seemed like two separate books. Other than a brief history of Israel, the first half dealt primarily with the attempt to defuse the "Six Day War" via diplomacy. The second half dealt with the war itself, and briefly discussed the war's aftermath.

The second half of the book is intense and really keeps your interest. There are many interesting stories about the war and Israel's attempt to keep it going on long enough to meet their objectives before the U.N. stepped in. Although I knew that the war was a rout, I had no idea how badly the Arab countries were beaten during those 6 days and the long term ramifications of the war. The author does a good job of bringing these points home.

The first half of the book doesn't shine as bright. I don't know how many times the same scenario was repeated with different characters. The statement - "We won't back you if you start the war, but if you are attacked, we'll back you" was repeated so many times, you start to forget where you are. For those who are history buffs (and know all the players involved) this may be a goldmine of information, however IMHO the first half of the book could use some healthy editing.

That being said, the book is still worth a 4-5 star rating. The strengths of the 2nd half of the book EASILY make up for the repetitive nature of the first half.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dr. Jonathan Newman
  • 2006-12-07

Fantastic!

This book is just great. I was afraid that this book might be a dry academic treatment of this war and the history surrounding it. It is very clearly a scholarly work, and yet it reads like a novel. The pace is intense and relentless; the narrator is great. After listening to this book it is not difficult to understand why the middle east is as screwed up as it is. Buy this book, you won't sorry.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patrick Marstall
  • 2006-07-23

Great overview of Middle East troubles

Coming into this book, I had only a rudimentary knowledge of the Six Day War, and I probably often got it confused with the Yom Kippur war or the 1958 Sinai incident. The book managed to indoctrinate me into what the author calls the Middle East “Context” and I am finding that I am looking at the current events in the area with new eyes.

The book is split into four distinct sections. The first deals with an abbreviated history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and provides a summary of the 1948 and 1958 wars, the rise of the dictatorships in the neighboring countries (especially Nassar in Egypt). The second portion deals at length with the events and diplomacy that led up to the war. The third portion deals with the military and political maneuvering that went on during the actual armed conflict. Finally the end of the book provides a “wrap up,” describing how the major players ended up and what the war did to change the political landscape of the area.

The author manages to dramaticize many of the decisions quite well -- the Liberty incident as narrated in the book is a real nail-biter, as is the initial Israeli first-strike on the Egyptians. Oren reminds me a bit of Shelby Foote ("A Narrative History of the Civil War") in how his writing turns the history into drama in places. The pathos of the historical characters is wonderful as well: Nassar of Egypt is a classic flawed and corrupted ruler, and I liked the idea of Anwar Sadat as Achilles brooding in his tent; Dianne, Rabin, LBJ, Eban and the others play out like characters in a Shakespearian drama in places. Though you know how it all will play out, there is a great deal of pleasure in hearing it play out.

For me, the book was very revealing. I’d recommend the book for anyone who would like an entertaining “primer” into the history of the modern Middle East and into the historical Israeli outlook in the region.

43 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lemons40
  • 2010-04-01

Required Reading

Oren takes a Cornelius Ryan (The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far, etc) approach to telling the story of this conflict. With apologies to Mr Ryan, Mr Oren's research is, indeed, definitive. The reader/listener is immediately engaged in all aspects of the war from the highest political decision making down to the experience of the individual soldier and pilot. Mr Oren makes his case- that modern middle eastern issues are a direct result of the making and outcome of this conflict-superbly. As in Mr Ryan's works, the writing is riveting and exciting. Mr Whitfield's reading is, as is his standard, eloquent and entertaining.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Eunice
  • 2008-07-25

Bit of history will told!

This was a great account of the Six Day War. It gives excellent background information that helps one understand the dynamics of Middle East tensions then and now. Maps are helpful. I bought a Middle Eastern atlas...helpful for this book and other historical narratives as well. The narration is well-done, as is the writing. If you desire a better understanding of this period of time in the Mid-East, consider this book. It is excellent.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • 2014-10-21

A definitive account

What made the experience of listening to Six Days of War the most enjoyable?

The title to this audiobook is somewhat misleading as this is really about the events which led up to the war as well as an almost minute by minute recounting of the combat. About half of the book is devoted to each. With almost 50 years elapsed, and with access to a seemingly treasure trove of historical documents, Oren has pieced together a finely detailed, arguably definitive recounting of the momentous events which reshaped the Middle East, founded the “modern” state of Israel, and propelled a generation of religious and sectarian conflict since. For readers of history, those with an interest in the Middle East, Israel, or the interplay (or failures) of diplomacy and warfare, there is lots here to captivate – from the larger than life political and military leaders, to the half-hearted efforts of diplomacy, to the military strategy and tactics involved. Oren takes pains to move the narrative along by balancing the goings on of all sides during the inexorable march to war and thereafter and there are the occasional revelations, some of which I found genuinely startling. While this could have formed the basis of a suspenseful page turner, the focus here is really on factual information told (and capably narrated) in a straightforward manner yet I found the results anything but dry or plodding. My only criticisms are that the maneuvering of forces and locations of battles are at times, difficult to follow without benefit of maps. As well, the cessation of the war, aftermath, and ramifications are dealt with comparatively briefly. Nevertheless, I would say these are relatively minor and that this book is well worth a listen.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Locutus
  • 2012-02-26

Superbly narrated political and military history

Would you consider the audio edition of Six Days of War to be better than the print version?

No. Each has its advantages. For example, maps in the printed version.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Moshe Dayan - Minister of Defence, Israel. His complex and perplexing character and ability to make sudden changes in regard to the war in the West bank, the capture of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

What does Robert Whitfield bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Excellent narrator. Pronounces Arab and Israeli names and places flawlessly

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

The book is a detailed political as well as military history of the events surrounding the Six Day War. It tries to present information from both the Arab and Israeli viewpoints,. It clearly demonstrates the divisions among the Arab nations and the resulting problems in carrying out coordinated military and political actions against a determined foe.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Neil
  • 2011-11-13

History lesson on what happened in those 6 days

I was hoping the book would be more about the battle, but half the book was about the set up for the war. The aurthor goes into great detail on who, what and when, but it lacked the drama and dialogue of war in the trenches. Overall I liked the book, but it is more historical then dramatical.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mohamed
  • 2011-10-29

Captivating!

I believe this is a very comprehensive book of the 1967 events and before. It is detailed and very well designed. Also, the book moves at a very high speed with no repititions; something that makes the hearing experience entertaining as well

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Benjamin
  • 2006-02-07

In-depth, un-biased, and delightful to listen to

Michael Oren has done a superb job with this overview of one of the most important wars of the second half of the 20th century. Oren breathes life into the arcane political machinations of all the players; the US, Israel, the Arab States, the UN, and the USSR. It is fascinating to see in such vivid detail how each party viewed the others and their own actions. I sat on the edge of my car seat waiting to find out if Israel would attack Egypt or Egypt invade the Negev, even though what happened is so well known. The consumate skill of the narrator only added to joy of listening.

Overall this book is a refreshingly honest look at a conflict that is so often characterized by cliches and hyperbole. You will come away with a greater understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict and a greater appreciation for the nuances and ambiguities that dominate the region's politics.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful