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I recently finished reading Six Days – How the 1967 war shaped the Middle East by Jeremy Bowen. Bowen is a famous BBC journalist who seems to have researched the book well and writes in an easy-to-read style. Bowen was in the region at the time and has supplemented his experience with later research.
I decided to read the book as I was curious to read more about the Six-Day War. The war had been an important event in Moshe Dayan’s autobiography. If you have the chance, Dayan’s autobiography Story of My Life is a great read for a counterpoint to Bowen.
In Six Days Bowen tells a story that no one involved will be happy with and covers the shooting and sinking of the USS Liberty in such a way that it prods your mind to search for answers.
The book is as much about the failings of the surrounding Arab states and the Soviet Union as it is about Israeli aggression, though Bowen’s telling of the story leans heavily in favour of the Arabs. So long as you are aware of this slant its fine. His work doesn’t editorialise that much about it.
Dayan was painted in the book as a political opportunist, at the expense of illustrating his now legendary pragmatism. I found the internal strife and prejudices between different groups of the Israelis very interesting, particularly the way the Zionists born in Israel looked down on the Jews from the diaspora who had survived world war two as being weak.
I would recommend that anyone interested should read this book. The Six Day War was an event that shaped the modern Middle East as we know it. I would also recommend that you do not rely exclusively on Bowen’s version of events and interpretation of events. Its a complex issue and you need to read multiple viewpoints. Bowen’s book is a good first start in your reading about the war. More book reviews here.