Return to Zion: The History of Modern Israel By Eric Gartman

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MishBookMost people are familiar with the history of Israel, but they weren’t standing on Masada more than 2,000 years ago when what had been the last Jewish stronghold fell to the Roman Empire.

That is where Eric Gartman’s account of modern Israeli history begins before fast-forwarding to the turn of the 20th century, the rise of Zionism and eventually the struggle for independence. Gartman, an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense, follows the key events in modern Israel’s history, including the British Mandate, the 1948, 1967 and 1973 wars, the Camp David Accords and the more recent
Second Intifada.


In describing the events, Gartman provides both context and historical documents that display the raw emotions of the major players involved in the creation and maintenance of the Jewish state. He includes, for instance, the passionate arguments David Ben Gurion would have with leaders of the Haganah in anticipating how to respond to an invasion from Egypt or Syria. Gartman’s writing is particularly effective at making the reader feel as if he were present during meetings, where one could cut the tension with a knife.

“Return to Zion” alternates in tone between that of a historical account and a thriller novel. Gartman does not insert his opinion into the Arab-Israeli conflict but rather provides an objective lens for people to learn about why the country is often in turmoil. His account will satisfy anyone who wants to take it one step beyond what we
already know about Israel and focus on the human element of its struggles.

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