Continue reading Barry Rubin’s Israel
by Roger L. Simon
Forget Frommer, Fodor or Lonely Planet. If you’re planning a trip to Israel in the near or distant future, get a copy of Israel: An Introduction by Barry Rubin, just released by Yale University Press.
Yes, you will still need guides to specific archaeological sites like the City of David, but Rubin’s book, written with numerous co-writer/experts in various fields, is the best overview of the Jewish state I have read and the best preparation for a trip. It is also the best book for the armchair traveler and the best general purpose resource on Israel yet published.
(OBVIOUS FULL DISCLOSURE: Rubin is the Middle East editor for this site and a friend. Does this disqualify me as a reviewer? Possibly, but that would similarly disqualify a fair percentage of reviews written in many publications.)
Rubin’s book excels in two areas: historical overview and Israeli sociology.
The eighty-some pages devoted to the history of the state are a useful review of the Israel story even, I would imagine, for those who consider themselves relatively knowledgable about the subject. This survey takes us through the early days of the “yishuv” — literally “the settlement,” but actually a kind of ur-Jewish state — the often violent struggle for independence with its militant factions from the Irgun to Lehi through the UN declaration of a state of Israel and the subsequent unceasing battle to survive.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reports, and now on his new blog, Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media
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