Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Publication Year



Winner of the 2003 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History

In Israel and the West it is called the Six Day War. In the Arab world, it is known as the June War, or simply as "the Setback." Never has a conflict so short, unforeseen and largely unwanted by both sides so transformed the world. The Yom Kippur War, the war in Lebanon, the Camp David accords, the controversy over Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in West Bank, the intifada and the rise of Palestinian terror: all are part of the outcome of those six days of intense Arab-Israeli fighting in the summer of 1967.
Michael B. Oren's Six Days of War is the most comprehensive history ever published of this dramatic and pivotal event, the first to explore it both as a military struggle and as a critical episode in the global Cold War. Oren spotlights all the participants--Arab, Israeli, Soviet, and American--telling the story of how the war broke out and of the shocking ways it unfolded.
Drawing on thousands of top-secret documents, on rare papers in Russian and Arabic, and on exclusive personal interviews, Six Days of War recreates the regional and international context which, by the late 1960s, virtually assured an Arab-Israeli conflagration. Also examined are the domestic crises in each of the battling states, and the extraordinary personalities--Moshe Dayan and Gamal Abdul Nasser, Hafez al-Assad and Yitzhak Rabin, Lyndon Johnson and Alexei Kosygin--that precipitated this earthshaking clash.


"In Michael Oren's richly detailed and lucid account, the familiar story is thrilling once again....What makes this book important is the breadth and depth of the research...[H]e uses many Arab memoirs and accounts, giving the book a balanced tone and offering fascinating new details. 'Six Days of War,' coming soon after Israel--on a 30 year declassification rule--opened its archives on 1967, is a powerful rendering of what has turned out to be a world-historical event.”--Gary J. Bass, The New York Times Book Review

“This is a masterly book....With a remarkably assured style, Oren elucidates nearly every aspect of the conflict....In writing his strategic chronicle, Oren has also drawn the most penetrating and subtle assessment of the Israeli mind that I've encountered....Oren's will remain the authoritative chronicle of the war. His achievement as a writer and a historian is awesome.”--Ben Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly

“In addition to being a highly readable, even gripping account of the 1967 conflict, Mr. Oren's 'Six Days of War' is also a powerful illustration of the way history mixes basic forces with the accidental and the improvisational....Provides fabulous richness of detail, including fly-on-the-wall accounts of the words and actions of many of the principal actors in places like Moscow and Washington, Damascus, Tel Aviv, and Cairo....He has woven a seamless narrative out of a staggering variety of diplomatic and military strands....Tragedy is character, as the Greeks understood, and Mr. Oren's masterly account shows how apt that insight is to the tragedy-afflicted Middle East, past and present.”--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

"There have been many books written on the Six Day War, none breaks new ground like this magnificent book does.”--Fouad Ajami, NPR

“This account of how Israel took the West Bank from Jordan, as they grabbed Sinai from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria, is unlikely to be surpassed, so thorough is the research and so compelling the analysis.”--Lawrence Freedman, Times Literary Supplement

“A near masterpiece of judicious but captivating history....Six Days of War turns out to be a far better guide to the present crisis than what we read and hear daily from our historically ignorant columnists and pundits.”--Victor Davis Hanson, Commentary

“In masterly fashion, Oren, an Israeli historian, describes how one move led to another, complete with the accidents and misunderstandings inherent in diplomatic and military manoeuvrings. He has thoroughly explored Israel, American and Russian archives, and made use of such Arab material as exists...while supplementing his narrative by interviewing many who played a part, large or small. This admirable book is likely to be the last word on the six-day war for a long time.”--David Pryce-Jones, The Sunday Times (London)

“This is the most complete history to date of the Six Day War of 1967....Further, Six Days of War is an attack on 'post Zionism': the school of politics and history that casts Israel as the author of policies that intentionally promote the destruction of Palestine as a separate entity and of Palestinians as a people, not least through the occupation that began with the 1967 War. By contrast, Oren convincingly establishes in an often engrossing narrative the reactive, contingent nature of Israeli policy during both the crisis preceding the conflict and the war itself....This book could very well hit the bestseller list.”--Publishers Weekly (boxed, starred review)

“One of the most valuable recent works on the subject....The book's value lies in its focus and extensive documentation of multilingual resources, including archives, newspapers, reports, books, interviews, and Internet sites. In addition, Oren covers the international, regional, and domestic implications of the war and uses maps to illustrate the geographical changes and military strategies...[A]n essential addition.”--Library Journal

“Michael Oren has taken a fresh and even-handed look at Israel's seminal Six Day War, utilizing recently declassified secret documents, interviews and painstaking research.”--Henry Kissinger


Oxford University Press
Oxford and New York