The Six-Day War
The Breaking of the Middle East
Yale University Press 2017
New Books in HistoryNew Books in Israel StudiesNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network July 16, 2018 Zeb Larson
The title of Guy Laron’s The Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East (Yale University Press, 2017) says it all. As Laron notes in this interview, the fact that the war led to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East is an accepted interpretation of the war’s meaning. However, through his research Laron has provided a new lens by which to understand the war. Using a holistic perspective that situates the war in the context of the Cold War and the economic development of the non-western world, Laron argues that several broader trends pushed the Israeli and Arab states into conflict in 1967. As developmental aid disappeared, Arab and Israeli governments alike were facing crises of confidence from their own populations. Reliance on the military became a way to earn legitimacy with a public that was becoming disenchanted, though it also fed into a number of increasingly belligerent moves that ultimately led to war on June 5, 1967.
Laron’s research shows as well the role of the superpowers in this conflict. As development aid gave way to military aid, they fueled the rise of militarism in these countries, and their often-contradictory diplomacy only muddied an already difficult situation. The legacy of the war, in addition to the ongoing conflicts that Israel faces in Palestine and its issues with neighbors such as Syria, was an erosion of civil-military relations that gave outsized roles to generals in the region. To write this history, Laron drew on archival research in the archives of former Soviet states and the literature that already existed on the topic. In doing so, he moves the study of the war from being a strictly regional issue to a global one.
Zeb Larson is a PhD Candidate in History at The Ohio State University. His research is about the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to [email protected]