If you’re anything like me, you’ll be doing a bit of research before you head to Israel. Whether that research includes some heavy Internet searching (have yougoogled Israel?), or the purchase of a book or two for inspiration, there are some great books on Israel to add to your research list.
I’ve come up with TEN books on Israel I really recommend, whether you’re heading over for a visit or just want a mighty fine read. No travel guides in this little lot (just take a look on this site for all the info you need!), these are just great books that will enhance your knowledge of Israel and, in turn, hopefully enhance your visit here.
Of course, if you’re looking for real inspiration, the story of How I ended up in the Holy Land – and stayed is highly recommended! There’s plenty of love, lust, sand, Scuds, and beers…and lots more. And yes, a lot of blood, sweat and tears was involved in the creation of this masterpiece. You can grab it on Amazon, or read more about it here…
In no particular order…
ISRAEL – an introduction: An amazing introduction to Israel, this book offers a definitive account of the nation’s past, its often controversial present, and much more. Written by Barry Rubin, a leading historian of the Middle East, the book is based around six major themes: land and people, history, society, politics, economics, and culture. You can’t go wrong with this book if you’re looking for the perfect intro to the Holy Land and what it’s all about. Click here for more details / to purchase.
Our Man in Damascus – Elie Cohen: This was one of the first books I read upon arriving in Israel many moons ago, and it still holds firm in my memory. A truly amazing story, this is a great read for those of you interested in Israel, and especially espionage enthusiasts. It will add depth and understanding of a crucial and fascinating story of a great man who died a master spy. Now out of print, try and grab a used paperback on Amazon. Click here for more details / to purchase.
Mossad – The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service: Continuing on with the espionage theme (such an intrinsic part of the development of Israel), this book tells us all about the most enigmatic, intelligence service in the world, which has long been shrouded in secrecy. This book highlights the greatest missions of the Mossad, as well as some of the most noteworthy failures that have tarnished the agency’s image. Click here for more details / to purchase.
Six Days of War – June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East: The Six Day War in 1967 was a moment that defined this small nation, and in fact, the whole of the Middle East. What is chilling about this book (which details the war in detail in a highly readable and very gripping manner), is that over forty years later, not much has changed, as the author points out. An exciting historical documentary, and not your typical war book! Click here for more details / to purchase.
A History of the Jews: This amazing history of the Jewish people is a great read, written by renowned Christian British historian Paul Johnson. If you are looking for a book to take you through through 4000 years of Jewish history, this has to be on your shopping list. The book is structured in such a way that the author makes this huge chunk of history understandable and extremely engaging. It also covers not only Jewish history but the impact of Jewish brains and imagination on the world. Click here for more details / to purchase.
Israel from the Air: One of the first presents I took home with me was a book of aerial views of Israel. This is perhaps the most updated version out there, considering the much changing skyline in places like Tel Aviv, and really gives a great glimpse of the Holy Land, highlighting the various deserts, seas, hills and cities you’ll just want to see live or revisit. This could be a beautiful memento of a trip or the perfect taster for an impending visit! Click here for more details / to purchase.
Start-up Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle: This great book explains how Israel, which don’t forget is a country of 7.1 million, only 60 years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, and with no natural resources, produces more start-up companies than almost anywhere else in the world. As a result, you might not be surprised to learn there is a huge amount of venture capital investment in Israel tech companies. Click here for more details / to purchase.
A History of Israel – From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time: A great book that does a fine job of supplying a detailed history of Israel. It’s a long read at well over 1000 pages long with a TON of well-researched information, but covers the rise of Zionism from the 1880s up to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and is, despite its length, a great read. Quite possibly the definitive work of reference on the Palestinian – Israel issue. Click here for more details / to purchase.
To Be a Jew: There once was a time when I delved further into the Jewish way of life, and this book by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin was the book that really gave me an amazing insight into Jewish life, philosophy, and law. The book begins with an overview of Judaism’s basic credo, and moves on to describe the laws governing Jews’ daily lives, the Jewish calendar, and “The Special Occasions of Life” from birth to death and mourning. Click here for more details / to purchase.
Son of Hamas: a Tale of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices: If you’re looking for a great read on the Israel – Palestinian conflict, this has to be the ultimate read! It tells the true story of how the son of the leader of Hamas turned from terror into a peace-loving Christian, helping Israel along the way. There are some amazing insights into the world of terrorism in this one! Click here for more details / to purchase.