A highly subjective and incomplete list, so let's crowd-source it and see what others have to suggest ....

David Ben-Gurion wiping his forehead before the Declaration of Independence session at the Tel Aviv Museum, May 14 1948. Photo Credit, Herschel Frank, Israel National Photo Collection, posted with permission.

First a word about the photo above. It was taken just moments prior to Ben-Gurion’s reading the Declaration of Independence, on May 14, 1948. The photograph of the reading itself, with Ben-Gurion standing in front of the portrait of Herzl, is of course very famous; this one is much less known. But I love it because it makes clear how well Ben-Gurion understood that creating a state was going to be far from simple. He’d accomplished a great deal in his life by May 1948, but there was a long way to go (he died in December 1973).

Speaking of that complexity of state-making ….

The following list, which I promised some time ago, is by definition a highly subjective and incomplete list. For almost every volume here there is another that could have replaced it, so this is largely personal preference on my part. Some I agree with, some I don’t, but I thought that they are thoughtful and interesting. Agree with them or not, anyone who reads these will really know what they’re talking about – which is the point of this list.

There are dozens of other great books on Israel … this is just for starters.

I’ve opened comments on this posting, so feel free to add your own suggestions (I believe that comments are open on PC’s and laptops, but not phones, or so I’m told), and then when we’ve crowd-sourced this, I’ll upload a revised and annotated version.


1.     Anita Shapira – Israel: A History

2.     Daniel Gordis – Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn

3.     Walter Laqueur – History of Zionism

4.     Shlomo Avineri – The Making of Modern Zionism: Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State

5.     Howard Sachar – From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time

6.     Tishby- Israel – A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth


7.     Theodor Herzl – Altneuland

8.     Theodor Herzl – The Jewish State

9.     Moses Hess – Rome and Jerusalem

10Gil Troy – The Zionist Ideas


11Tom Segev – The Seventh Million

12.  Hannah Arendt – Eichmann in Jerusalem


13.  Bennis Morris – 1948

14.  Michael Oren – Six Days of War

15.  Yossi Klein Halevi – Like Dreamers

16.  Matti Friedman – Pumpkin Flowers


17.  Daniel Gordis – Menachem Begin

18.  Yehudah Avner – The Prime Ministers

19.  Landau – Arik: The Life of Ariel Sharon

20.  Hillel Halkin – Jabotinsky

21.  Shlomo Avineri – Herzl

22.  Anita Shapira – Ben Gurion

23.  Klabgsbrun – Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel

24.  David Makovsky and Dennis Ross – Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny


25.  Thomas Friedman – From Beirut to Jerusalem

26.  Dan Senor & Saul Singer – Start-Up Nation

27.  Gil Troy – Moynihan’s Moment

28.  Daniel Gordis- We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel

29.  Seth Siegel – Let There Be Water

30.  Shmuel Rosner and Camil Fuchs – #IsraeliJudaism: Portrait of a Cultural Revolution

31.  Micha Goodman – The Wondering Jew: Israel and the Search for Jewish Identity


32.  Yossi Klein Halevi – Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

33.  Dennis Ross – Doomed to Succeed

34.  Dennis Ross – The Missing Peace  

35.  Micha Goodman – Catch 67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six Day War

36.  Gershom Gorenberg – Accidental Empire

37.  Benny Morris – Righteous Victims

38.  Benny Morris – The Origins of the Palestinian Refugee Problem


39.  Sari Nusseibeh – Once Upon a Country

40.  Sayed Kashua – Dancing Arabs

Share Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis

In coming weeks, we’ll do the same thing for Israeli literary fiction, movies and TV — what are the things to read and watch to get a real sense of what ticks in the hearts and minds of Israelis? We’ll distribute that list to paid subscribers shortly after the holidays have concluded.

Plus, a column on Israel’s attitudes to the military, particularly as seen in light of the non-victory against Hamas in May, the needless and tragic death of a soldier shot dead at point blank range at the Gaza fence and then of course the colossal failure of the prison authorities and the escape of six terrorists (all subsequently recaptured with no one killed) from the Gilboa prison. Israelis’ sense of their military force has been shifting for decades, in ways very much unlike how it’s seen abroad. We’ll cover that, too.

Also, the new Polish law banning new requests for restitution…. Is it really anti-Semitic? Some very knowledgable Israelis insist not, and we’ll hear their views, too.

In the meantime, for all those celebrating, wishes for a joyous Sukkot.

What if you know that you want to make Shabbat a meaningful part of your life when you eventually get married and start a family, but also know that the Shabbat that you grew up with in your parents' home isn't for you? How do you learn about what the options might be?

Tifferet Oriyah, 25-years-old now, put out a FaceBook posting a few years ago, inviting herself over to people's homes to witness their Shabbatot. She was invited to hundreds, went to about a dozen ... from Haredi to hyper-secular, she saw the full mosaic of Shabbat as it’s celebrated and honored throughout Israeli society. It was a journey of searching for Shabbat, but also for home. 

(Israel, by the way, is still a country in which a young woman can invite herself over to the homes of people she doesn't know and about whom she often knows nothing -- without worry.)

In this conversation, Tifferet shares with us some of what she saw and what she learned about Israeli society through her explorations -- and a bit about the book she's written in light of those experiences. This excerpt is available to all ... the full conversation will be posted on Thursday (delayed by a day due to the holiday of Sukkot) for paid subscribers to Israel from the Inside

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