History of the War of Independence. Vol. 1
by Uri Milstein
Trans. By Alan Sacks. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1996. 457 pp. $64
Reviewed by Amos Perlmutter
The American University
Middle East Quarterly
The first volume in Milstein's monumental study deals with the first year of Israel's War of Independence. It provides an uneven mixture of political analysis and military description. Milstein takes up such matters as the disparity between Arab armies and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF); the Haganah underground in the making of the IDF; David Ben-Gurion's role in the formation of IDF strategy; and whether the Yishuv was prepared for war. Trouble is, all of these issues have been discussed in tens of monographs, political memoirs, and journalistic campaign descriptions; Milstein makes no new contribution, descriptively or analytically.
This volume's outstanding feature is its translation. The book lacks original documentation, nor is there analysis of the causes for the war or its international politics. Above all, a quantitative analysis of Israeli and Arab forces engaged in the war is desperately missing.
Milstein imagines himself to be the great scholarly critic of Israel's military and security policies, but unfortunately, his work is one of imagination more than of scholarship. In this, he is paying a high price for being the IDF's enfant terrible: the guardians of the secrets and the official historians alike have done their utmost to keep him form gaining access to serious information. A comprehensive study of the IDF is still awaiting its historians.
Related Topics: Amos Perlmutter | March 1997 MEQ
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