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What can I read to learn more about Israel?

Here is a categorized list of books to get you started.

Disclaimer: I have read many, but not all, of them, though I'm working on it. 

The pictures link to their pages on Amazon. 


Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn by Daniel Gordis 

Return to Zion: The History of Modern Israel by Eric Gartman 

Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert


A Voice Called: Stories of Jewish Heroism by Yossi Katz 


The Heights of Courage by Avigdor Kahalani (about the Yom Kippur War in the Golan Heights)

The Letters of Yonatan (Jonathan) Netanyahu by Benjamin and Iddo Netanyahu


Six Days of War – June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael Oren 

1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War by Benny Morris

Spies of No Country by ​Matti Friedman 

Mossad – The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service by Nissim Mishal and Michael Bar-Zohar

Our Man in Damascus - Eli Cohen by Elie Ben-Hanan

One Palestine, Complete by Tom Segev (about the British Mandate period)

O Jerusalem! by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins

From Time Immemorial - Joan Peters



Out of the Depths by Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau


Night by Elie Wiesel

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl 


Israel 201 by Joel Chasnoff & Benji Lovitt

#IsraeliJudaism by Shmuel Rosner and Camil Fuchs

Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth by Noa Tishbi

How To Fight Anti-Semitism by Bari Weiss


The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland? Then, Now, Tomorrow by Gil Troy

The Prime Ministers by Yehuda Avner

The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

Dancing Arabs by Sayed Kashua

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi 

Winning the War of Words: Essays on Israel and Zionism by Einat Wilf

Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel by Francine Klagsbrun


Catch 67: The Left, The Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War by Micah Goodman

No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel by Shimon Peres

Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by ​Yossi Klein Halevi 

The Arab Predicament by Fouad Ajami


Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

Zahav by Michael Solomonov

Israeli Soul by Michael Solomonov


The New Book of Israeli Food by Janna Gur

Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft 


The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan

Sababa by Adeena Sussman

Balaboosta by Einat Admony

Shuk by Einat Admony and Janna Gur

Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel

The Palomar Cookbook by Assaf Granit, Uri Navon and Tomer Amedi

Divine Food: Israeli and Palestinian Food Culture and Recipes by David Haliva

Golden: Sweet & Savory Baked Delights from the Ovens of London’s Honey & Co. by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer


Isresilience: What Israelis Can Teach the World by Michael Dickson and Naomi L. Baum

Start Up Nation by Saul Singer and Dan Senor

Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World by Avi Jorisch


Let There Be Water: Israel's Solution for a Water-Starved World by Seth Siegel

Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Inbal Arieli

Israel's Edge: The Story of The IDF's Most Elite Unit - Talpiot by Jason Gewirtz

Israel: The Start-up Nation for Medical Innovation by Rob Norman

The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower by Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot


In his own category: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Rabbi Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of Britain and for me is perhaps the premier Jewish philosopher, writer and ethicist of our time. Really anything by him is a treasure. He has tons of stuff up on his website, notably about leadership and ethics, and you can sign up for his weekly email there as well:

Some of my favorite books of his include: 

Radical Then, Radical Now

To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility

Celebrating Life: Finding Happiness in Unexpected Places

Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times 

Everything Else: 

The Accidental Zionist - What a Priest, a Pornographer and a Wrestler Named Chainsaw taught me about being Jewish, saving the world and why Israel matters to both by Rabbi Ian Pear 

Judaism's 10 Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers by Rabbi Art Green

Pirkei Avot: Ethics of our Ancestors (lots of options for this)

Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler


Abraham by Bruce Feiler

Jewish Meditation by Aryeh Kaplan 

Judaism's Great Debates: Timeless Controversies from Abraham to Herzl by Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz


The JPS B'nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin (see the dedication page)

The JPS Birthright Torah Commentary (JPS Study Bible) by Rabbi Eli Garfinkel  (see the dedication page)

The Israel Bible - focused on the land of Israel, the people of Israel and the relationship between them

Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman (for those interested in the documentary hypothesis)

Israeli Judaism: Portrait of a Cultural Revolution by Shmuel Rosner and Camil Fuchs

What I Wish They Would Have Taught Me In Sunday School About Science, The Bible and God by Philip Singerman

Justice for All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics by Jeremiah Unterman


In general, anything by Amos Oz, Etgar Keret, David Grossman, Shai Agnon, Meir Shalev and A.B. Yehoshua

That being said, here are a few good lists:

Plus, I love the historical fiction books by both Daniel Silva and Jon Land. 

If you are coming to Israel, here are a few good books to help sites come alive: 

The Source by James Michener

Exodus by Leon Uris

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Rock: A Tale of Seventh-Century Jerusalem by Kanan Makiya

Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufmann

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz

Day After Night by Anita Diamant

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