The Israeli Defense Force has long been one of the world's most admired--and most mythologized--fighting forces. But is it--was it ever--everything it's cracked up to be? Have its remarkable, against all odds, victories been a double-edged sword for Israel? . Combining razor-sharp analysis with dramatic narrative, vivid portraits of soldiers and commanders with illuminating discussions of battle tactics and covert actions, The Sword and the Olive traces the history of the IDF from its beginnings in Palestine to today. The book also goes beyond chrology to wrestle with the political and ethical struggles that have shaped the IDF and the country it serves--struggles that are manifesting themselves in the recent tragic escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Often revisionist in attitude, surprising in many of its conclusions, this book casts new light on the struggle for peace in the Middle East.
Martin van Creveld is a military historian at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of The Transformation of War, Command in War, and many other books, several of which are required reading for all US Army officers. Two of his children have served in the Israeli Defense Force.