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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 309

One primary theme in Michael Oren’s history of the 1967 Israeli war is indicated in its subtitle: that this war played a key role in shaping the Middle Eastern political landscape—at least, as of its publication in 2002. The theme of the importance of history also emerges as Oren shows the influence of earlier geopolitical policies in shaping the ongoing Middle Eastern political and religious conflicts. More generally, a key theme is that small nations have a greater necessity for flexibility in military conflicts. This is especially the case when that nation has larger neighbors with different priorities. As in most books about war, the author promotes the theme of the hardships that both combatants and civilians endure. Another theme that emerges is the difficulty of objectivity. As the author is himself Israeli, it is clear that he supports Israel’s position in the war.

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The combination of political and military conflict, in which Israel took both defensive and aggressive positions, did not resolve the existing tensions. One area in which the continued legacy of the Six Day War is seen is in the hotly contested West Bank and Gaza territories. Oren’s opinion, supported by his archival research, is that had different diplomatic paths been pursued, the war might have been avoided—but perhaps only temporarily, given the intensity of the underlying conflicts. One key issue he explores is other countries’ opposition to Israel’s existence as a sovereign nation.

Ren includes profiles of the national and regional leaders who played key roles in this war. Primary among these is Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of Egypt, whose growing influence in the Arab world included increasing anti-Israel activity. He also examines the Assad regime in Syria. Oren also places the regional tensions in larger geopolitical perspective, including the change from French to US military and financial support for Israel.

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