Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What is Daniel Byman reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Daniel Byman, author of The Five Front War and the recently released A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism.

His entry begins:
I usually read non-fiction and fiction simultaneously, as my moods vary and I enjoy a change in focus.

Like many people, I know only snippets of Egyptian history, often concerning the lives and deeds of individual pharaohs or snippets about hieroglyphs and the pyramids. So I was pleased to discover Toby Wilkinson’s The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt. Wilkinson’s book is ambitious, chronicling almost 3,000 years of Egyptian history. At times it gets a tad pedantic. Mostly, however, it is a joy to read, helping a non-expert (me) get a sense not only of the ebb and flow of dynastic politics, but also on the pharaohs’ foreign policies and the social and political system that made Egypt’s strength possible. Wilkinson makes a particular point of emphasizing the dark side of ancient Egypt, ranging from human sacrifice to the near-constant abuse of Egypt’s poor peasants.

On the fiction side, I recently finished...[read on]
Among the early praise for A High Price:
"For a democracy, some ways of defeating terrorism can be a Pyrrhic victory. Byman shows us what Israel did against terrorists that failed, what worked, and what was counter-productive. We can learn from Israel's experience. We do not have to repeat their mistakes... if we know what they were.
--Richard A. Clarke, author of Against All Enemies and Cyber War

"Daniel Byman has produced a vitally important, invaluable history and analysis of Israeli counterterrorism policy and practice. His research and judgments are balanced, nuanced, grounded in evidence and highly credible. He shatters the easy myths about Israeli brilliance and bungling against its terrorist adversaries and leads us to an understanding of why it remains so important for Israel to discover a path forward that will integrate its counterterrorism tactics into a wider strategy that can produce, as the author puts it, 'peace within its borders and with its neighbors.'"
--Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars and The Bin Ladens

"On a topic that excites great passion, Dan Byman has written a cool, lucid, and balanced work. This is, and for years to come will remain, the best book explaining the Israeli experience, its successes and its failures, to all democracies facing terrorist threats."
--Eliot A. Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies, SAIS, Johns Hopkins

"Israel has been fighting terrorism from its first days as a state more than six decades ago. In this first in-depth, comprehensive history and analysis of Israel's counter-terrorism strategy Dan Byman has done an extraordinary job of marshalling the facts and presenting a compelling critique. Anyone with an interest in combating the scourge of terrorism or understanding Israel's unique approach to the challenge will find this book an insightful, thought-provoking guide and a fascinating read."
--Martin Indyk, Vice President and Director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel
Learn more about A High Price at the Oxford University Press website.

Daniel Byman is Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He has served on the 9/11 Commission staff and as an analyst with the U.S. government.

The Page 69 Test: Byman's The Five Front War.

The Page 99 Test: A High Price.

Writers Read: Daniel Byman.

--Marshal Zeringue