1948 (Paperback)

A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

By Benny Morris

Yale University Press, 9780300151121, 544pp.

Publication Date: April 28, 2009

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (4/1/2008)

List Price: 24.00*
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Benny Morris demolishes misconceptions and provides a comprehensive history of the Israeli-Arab war of 1948

This history of the foundational war in the Arab-Israeli conflict is groundbreaking, objective, and deeply revisionist. A riveting account of the military engagements, it also focuses on the war's political dimensions. Benny Morris probes the motives and aims of the protagonists on the basis of newly opened Israeli and Western documentation. The Arab side—where the archives are still closed—is illuminated with the help of intelligence and diplomatic materials.

Morris stresses the jihadi character of the two-stage Arab assault on the Jewish community in Palestine. Throughout, he examines the dialectic between the war's military and political developments and highlights the military impetus in the creation of the refugee problem, which was a by-product of the disintegration of Palestinian Arab society. The book thoroughly investigates the role of the Great Powers—Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union—in shaping the conflict and its tentative termination in 1949. Morris looks both at high politics and general staff decision-making processes and at the nitty-gritty of combat in the successive battles that resulted in the emergence of the State of Israel and the humiliation of the Arab world, a humiliation that underlies the continued Arab antagonism toward Israel.

About the Author

Benny Morris is professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University, Israel. He is the leading figure among Israel's "New Historians," who over the past two decades have reshaped our understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict. His books include Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001; Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956; and The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited.

Praise For 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

"A commanding, superbly documented, and fair-minded study of the events that, in the wake of the Holocaust, gave a sovereign home to one people and dispossessed another. . . . What is so striking about Morris's work as a historian is that it does not flatter anyone's prejudices, least of all his own."—David Remnick, New Yorker

"Morris relates the story of his new book soberly and somberly, evenhandedly and exhaustively. . . . An authoritative and fair-minded account of an epochal and volatile event. He has reconstructed that event with scrupulous exactitude."—David Margolick, New York Times Book Review

"Morris's account seems admirable, because he is unafraid of upsetting both camps. . . . His commitment to the pursuit of historical truth deserves as much admiration as his dismay at Arab intransigence commands sympathy. . . . Morris's book is no mere military narrative, but a crisp, vivid introduction to the historical tragedy of Palestine."—Max Hastings, Sunday Times

"When it comes to interpreting the history they shared in 1947-49, Arabs and Israelis subscribe to two radically different narratives. . . . One of the many achievements of this admirable book is to help readers understand why each narrative commands such authority and why they remain so stubbornly irreconcilable."—Andrew Bacevich, Boston Globe

"An ambitious, detailed and engaging portrait of the war itself—from its origins to its unresolved aftermath—that further shatters myths on both sides of the Israeli-Arab divide."—Glenn Frankel, Washington Post Book World

"Morris, born in 1948, is among a group of Israeli 'new historians,' whose work has challenged the traditional, accepted line of the birth of Israel. In this well-researched book, he strives for balance."—Billy Heller, New York Post (Required Reading)

"Morris relates the story of his new book soberly and somberly, evenhandedly and exhaustively. . . . An authoritative and fair-minded account of an epochal and volatile event."—David Margolick, New York Times Book Review

"Morris offers a study of Israel's war of independence, effectively debunking many of the myths surrounding it. . . . He meticulously documents the expulsions and atrocities that occurred on both sides. His work demonstrates that passion, not polemic, about this controversial era leads to good history. Recommended for all libraries."—Library Journal

"Morris' . . . new book, impeccably timed to coincide with our 60th anniversary, is notable for its insistence that the religious dimension of Arab opposition to Jewish sovereignty, the rejection of Israel as an 'infidel' and 'alien' presence, was overwhelming from the earliest days of the struggle for statehood—and was underestimated by Israel's leaders from the earliest days, too."—David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post

"A richly detailed and thoroughly researched primer on the first great Mideast war, as well as on the essential reasons why the Israeli-Palestinian standoff remains so intractable. A compelling 'aha' book, 1948 brings order to complex, little-understood subjects . . . with [Morris'] vivid narrative prose and masterly analysis."—David Holahan, The Hartford Courant

"A considerable achievement, meticulously detailing and analyzing both Israel's war of Independence, on the one hand, and its mirror Palestinian face: the Catastrophe (al nakba), on the other. For those who can handle often-uncomfortable facts, this volume is a must read. . . . A courageous narrative."—Michael Bell, Toronto Globe and Mail

"Magisterial. . . . A densely researched, richly textured, nuanced book brimming with discerning analysis and telling details. . . . It will be mandatory reading for the foreseeable future."—Sheldon Kirshner, Canadian Jewish News

"Readers  can do no better that to go to a new authoritative source about the beginnings of the Israeli state, Benny Morris' 1948."—Jonathan S. Tobin, The Jewish Exponent

"As [Israel] celebrates six decades of reborn existence on May 14 and books about it cascade into stores, the most important among them [is] Benny Morris's 1948."—Carlin Romano, The Chronicle Review

"A compelling 'aha' book, 1948 brings order to complex, little-understood subjects . . . with [Morris'] vivid narrative prose and masterly analysis."—David Holahan, The Hartford Courant

Winner of the 2008 National Jewish Book Award in the category of History, presented by the Jewish Book Council

"This is the best book by far on the war of 1948."—Benjamin Kedar, Professor of History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"This is a wonderful contribution to the historiography of the Israel/Palestine War of 1948. Morris has written a fresh account, substantiated by a lot of new documentation."—Ronald W. Zweig, Professor of Israel Studies, New York University