In a spare and direct way, replete with quotations, Oren has written the best book ever on the Six-Day War. He draws on sources in six languages and is the first historian to use the recently-opened state archives of several countries. Those archives provide his account with an insider quality previously lacking and give him many scoops (two of them: the specific Arab plans for conquering Israel; and how Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's decision to seize the Golan Heights violated his terms of office).

Oren's research offers insights into the reasons for the Israel Defense Forces winning so overwhelmingly; they practiced relentlessly and lived in a world of absolute realism, in contrast to the fantasy world of the Arabs. If the Israelis were all nerves on approaching war—Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin suffered a breakdown—the Arab leaders were wildly overconfident. A Syrian general predicted a victory over Israel in four days, "at most." Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser "showed no signs of concern, insisting that the Jews were incapable of mounting" precisely the surprise air attack that they did pull off.

His research also bears on the war's long-term consequences. Well before the guns fell silent, the hope of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict created its own imperatives and illusions. The U.S. government was thinking, even before hostilities started, how the war might help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Already in mid-May, the National Security Council's Middle East hand, Harold Saunders, suggested that Israel should have the time to trounce its enemies, seeing in this a way "of settling borders and, maybe even refugees." President Lyndon B. Johnson had, by the second day of warfare, formulated the outline of the land-for-peace policy that ever since has characterized U.S. policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict: Israel uses its conquests as leverage to gain recognition from the Arabs.

In retrospect, while there was some accuracy to this expectation—it's why Egypt's president Anwar Sadat effectively capitulated to Israel's terms in 1977—it eventually led the U.S. and Israel down the primrose path to today's violence.