Holy Wars: 3,000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land, Gary L. Rashba

Holy Wars: 3,000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land, Gary L. Rashba

This book examines seventeen of the many conflicts that have taken place in the Holy Land, from the original Israelite conquest to the modern Arab-Israeli Wars. It covers a very wide range of topics in those seventeen chapters, from Biblical and Classical warfare to modern armoured combat and the current asymmetrical struggle.

The author has chosen an interesting selection of conflicts, starting with the Israelite conquest of the Holy Land, dated here at 1400 BC. The early biblical chapters also look at the conflict with the Canaanites and the Philistines within Palestine and the battles against external foes with the Assyrians.  Classical Antiquity is covered by the conflict with the Seleucid Empire and the conquest by Rome.

We then move onto the Arab conquest of 634 AD. The Crusaders are covered by their decisive defeat at the Horns of Hattin. The Mamluks are well represented, with their victory over the Mongols and defeats at the hands of the Ottomans and Napoleon. One chapter looks at the British involvement during the First World War and we then move on to five chapters on the Arab-Israeli conflicts. These chapters are largely told from the Israeli point of view, perhaps unsurprisingly given the author's connections to the Israeli defence industry. This doesn't mean that the author is uncritical of the Israeli military when necessary, but we don’t get much from the Arab side of the conflict.

The first three chapters suffer from a lack of analysis of the sources for this early period, and instead simply recount bible stories as history. The middle section is much stronger, with a wider range of sources and a good balance. The chapters on the modern Arab-Israeli conflict could do with more material from the Arab side, but the author's in-depth knowledge of the Israeli army and its equipment does pay off. The overall result is an interesting read that gives a good idea of the conflicts to have swept over this small part of the Middle East.

1 - Latch of the Land of Israel: Israelite Conquest of the Promised Land, 1400 BCE
2 - Times of Trouble: Battles of the Judges, 1200 BCE
3 - Two Peoples, One Land: Philistines and Israelites, 1000 BCE
4 - Sennacherib's Crowning Achievement: Assyrians at Lachish, 701 BCE
5 - Pushed Too Far: The Maccabean War, 175 BCE
6 - Ivdaea Capta: The Rage of Rome, 67 CE
7 - The Koran, The Tribute, Or The Sword! Islam's Conquest of the Middle East, 634 CE
8 - Impaled at the Horns of Hattin: Twilight for the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1187
9 - Wa Islamah! Wa Islamah!: Mamluks Stop the Mongol Horde, 1260
10 - Outgunned: Mamluk Cavalry Scorn Ottoman Firearms, 1516
11 - Plagued by Delays, and Delayed by Plagues: Napoleon's Holy Land Campaign, 1799
12 - By Way of Deception: World War I in Palestine, 1917-18
13 - Israel's 'Maginot Line': 1948 War of Independence
14 - Attacked, Captured and Abandoned: 1956 Sinai Campaign
15 - How the Hell Did Anyone Get Up There? 1967 Six Day War
16 - Sacrificial Stand in the Golan Heights: 1973 Yom Kippur War
17 - Turkey Shoot Over the Bekaa Valley: 1982 Lebanon War

Author: Gary L. Rashba
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2011

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