There some great books circulating out there you should read if you plan to tour Israel. Some are well known and some are more under the radar. This is my Israel recommended reading and I guess the list can go on and on. I mean there so many books about the Holy Land. It’s all depends on your point of interest right?
1. Israel Recommended Reading: The Bible
Obviously, the number one on my list has to be the Old and the New Testament. I always say that the Bible is the best tour guide book if you’re going to visit Israel. Some books are more relevant than others. For example, in the Old Testament, I think focusing on the book of Joshua, First, and Second Samuel and Kings is a great start to get to know the Promised Land. Also, in the New Testament, the four Gospels are essential, especially the Gospel of Mathew. But the Book of Acts as well as important and mentions important events taking place in the Holy Land.
2. Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn
Israel by Daniel Gordis sweeps you away from the first page. This comprehensive book yet easy to read gives the reader a good scope about the nation of Israel. questions like why does such a small country speak to so many global concerns? I guess a more pressing question would be: Why does Israel make the decisions it does? But in order to answer all these questions and more, this book tries to break down the term the Nation of Israel. Of course, there is ongoing conflict but Israel’s people don’t sum up only by this bloody confrontation with the Palestinians. This book would Guide you through the milestones of Israeli history, Gordis relays the drama of the Jewish people’s story and the creation of the state. straight forward and erudite, he illustrates how Israel became a cultural, economic, and military powerhouse. But also explains where Israel made grave mistakes.
3. 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War by Benny Morris is a fundamental book for these interested to understand the Arab-Israeli Conflict. On the one hand, he explains the events of the 1948 war that created Israel. On the other hand, he debunks and demystifies some of the greatest myths of the 1948 war. He outlines masterfully how this conflict that started from local land disputes between Jewish settlers and the local Arab population escalated to a nationalistic confrontation between two nations living in the same territory till it went to an entire regional war between the young State of Israel and the Arab World.
Morris narrates the events brilliantly and places in the book original first-hand testimonials found in archives that were closed for decades and were open to the public a couple of years before the book was published. I recommend reading this book strongly if you have the time. For a full book review about this book, you can click here and read about it on my blog.
4. The Middle East
In this immensely readable and wide-ranging book, Bernard Lewis charts the successive transformations of the Middle East, beginning with the two great empires, the Roman and the Persian, and covering the growth of Christianity, the rise and spread of Islam, the waves of invaders from the east, the Mongol hordes of Jengiz Khan, the rise of the Ottoman Turks, and the changing balance of power between the Muslim and Christian worlds.
5. Israel Recommended Reading: The Carta Jerusalem Atlas
The Carta Jerusalem Atlas by Dan Bahat is a luxuriously enlarged atlas that clearly portrays the history of Jerusalem through the ages. This comprehensive picture of the long history of one of the most contested cities in the world will prove of value to scholars, students, and laymen alike, and especially for those whom the Holy City has special meaning. This Atlas is very useful if you tour Jerusalem. So the purpose of an atlas is to present as credibly as possible the main events and situations in graphic and cartographic form. Ans this atlas does just that. The history of Jerusalem according to its various periods is portrayed in as concise and popular a manner as possible while ensuring that it is scientifically exact. A detailed map of the Old City today concludes the survey of Jerusalem through the ages.
6. Israel: A History
The historian Martin Gilbert traces the events and personalities that would lead to the dramatic declaration of Statehood in May 1948. From that point on, Israel’s history has been dominated by conflict. Using contemporary documents and eyewitness accounts, and drawing on his own intimate knowledge of the country and its people, Martin Gilbert weaves together a page-turning history of a powerful and proud nation, from the struggles of its pioneers in the nineteenth century up to the present day.