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(cover: Susan Erony)

The Edge of the Sword: Israel’s War of Independence 1947-1949 by Netanel Lorch (197,000 words, 69 maps and illustrations)

Netanel Lorch, who fought as an officer in Jerusalem during Israel’s War of Independence and later founded the Israel Defense Forces’ Historical Section, offers a detailed military history of the years 1947-49. The book begins with the tensions of the British Mandate period in Palestine, including the international debates over proposed boundaries for the new Jewish state, and examines the chaos that followed the British evacuation, the invasion of five Arab armies supported by guerrilla fighters inside Israel, the defeat of the Arab armies, and the signing of armistice agreements at Rhodes. It surveys the strength, weaknesses, equipment and manpower of Jewish and Arab forces and describes the strategies and tactics used in operations launched by all sides, together with the results of the battles that led to Israel’s pre-1967 borders.


“In splendidly crisp, frugal but always fluent narrative, Col. Netanel Lorch relates how Israel won her life with ‘The Edge of the Sword.’ It is an apt title for this masterly deployment of bare facts, devoid of speculative afterthoughts, almost devoid of comment... I rate this book a splendid job of work, absorbing to a student of war, a fit memorial to heroic events passing comprehension.” —
The New York Times

“... minute in its detail, meticulous in its completeness, matter of fact in its style... but, professional objectivity notwithstanding, he offers a penetrating insight into the passions and purposes that underlay this struggle.” — Herbert Kupferberg,
The New York Herald Tribune

“Lorch... was fortunate in holding a position in which he was able to obtain and sift much data not normally available to the public. This he has done admirably... It is a timely, comprehensive book... clearly a must for the bookshelf of everyone who takes an interest in military matters or in the Middle East.” — Edgar O’Ballance,
The Spectator, London

“... a fascinating work. The book teems with technical details and military terms; it gives blow by blow the story of every campaign, and almost every action.” — Marvin Lowenthal,
Jewish Social Studies

“Genuine history, admirably written...” — Bernard Fergussen,
London Daily Telegraph

“[Lorch] writes with a clarity quite unusual in military specialists... superbly written and fascinating.” —
The Cape Argus, Capetown

“The most detailed and most searching study of this momentous little war which has yet been published. It is also remarkably readable... it teaches quietly and with no brashness, a number of salutary lessons, strategic and tactical, logistic and moral, which every soldier ought to ponder... Lorch’s narrative is as candid as it is well marshalled. He is not sparing in his criticism of Israeli mistakes. He does not sneer and he does not exult.” —
Journal of the Royal United Services Institution