Quick Book Thoughts: Six Days of War by Michael Oren

I picked this up to remedy my almost complete lack of knowledge about the Six Day War and recent Middle-Eastern history. The story itself commands the reader’s interest. No great feat of writing is necessary to make it compelling. And the author confidently handled a dazzling array of facts, quotes, and details throughout the narrative. At times, for myself, the level of detail was beyond my ability to absorb. This had a tendency to blur the picture and slow the narrative down. I noticed this more in the first half of the book than in the second. The quality of the writing was fair. There was little to no artistic embellishment or attempt to turn a phrase just so. So be it.

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One of the things that came to the surface in reading the story of this tragic conflict was the power of truth. So many people, especially on the Egyptian side of the conflict, were afraid to tell the truth to their superiors. Their institutions valued some things more than truth, perhaps many things, and so the flow of truth was interrupted in myriad ways. This made it impossible to manage the conflict intelligently. The unwillingness to hear unpleasant truths among leaders fosters an unwillingness to speak unpleasant truths in subordinates, and the whole system breaks down.

This example points to a deep truth, namely the nature of the relationship between the world-as-it-is (reality) and our selves. When that relationship is not built on truth, but on some other basis, eventually the self becomes unmoored from reality and courts disaster. In the case of the 1967 Egyptian army, that was revealed in six painful days. In other cases, the revelation may come much slower, although I doubt less painfully.

Vaclav Havel said “live in truth” and Alexander Solzhenitsyn said “live not by lies.”

This is vital not only for armies but for each individual life.

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