Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947

Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947

A landmark history, based on newly available documents, of the battles between Jews, Arabs, and the British that led to the creation of Israel

Anonymous Soldiers brilliantly re-creates the crucial period in the establishment of Israel, chronicling the three decades of growing anticolonial unrest that culminated in the end of British rule and the UN resolution to create two separate states. This groundbreaking book tells in riveting, previously unknown detail the story of how Britain, in the twilight of empire, struggled and ultimately failed to reconcile competing Arab and Jewish demands and uprisings. Bruce Hoffman, America’s leading expert on terrorism, shines new light on the bombing of the King David Hotel, the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo, the leadership of Menachem Begin, the life and death of Abraham Stern, and much else. Above all, Hoffman shows exactly how the underdog “anonymous soldiers” of Irgun and Lehi defeated the British and set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the creation of the formidable nation-state of Israel.

This is a towering accomplishment of research and narrative, and a book that is essential to anyone wishing to understand not just the origins of modern-day Israel or the current situation in the Middle East, but also the methodology of terrorism. Drawing on previously untapped archival resources in London, Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem, Bruce Hoffman has written one of the most detailed and sustained accounts of a terrorist and counterterrorist campaign that may ever have been seen, and in doing so has cast light on one of the most decisive world events in recent history. This will be the definitive account of the struggle for Israel for years to come.

From the Hardcover edition.



“Riveting. . . . [A] thought-provoking book.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Gripping. . . . Pathbreaking.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Remarkable. . . . A magisterial history that is indispensable to anyone wishing to understand how and why the State of Israel came into existence.” —Foreign Affairs

Anonymous Soldiers does a wonderful job of elucidating this enormously complex and important period in Jewish history.” —Tablet

“Indispensable. . . . A first-rate portrait. . . . [A] carefully researched and balanced treatment of the Jewish underground. . . . [Anonymous Soldiers] add[s] substantially to the contemporary debate about the aspirations, motivations and tactics of resistance movements, and the challenges inherent in addressing them.” —The Washington Post

“One to read. . . . Those interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict will want this book in their library. . . . It’s straightforward scholarship, written in an interesting style, and richly footnoted.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“A detailed chronicle. . . . What makes Anonymous Soldiers a valuable contribution to the historiography of the revolt is that Hoffman is the first scholar of the subject to fully utilize the many thousands of British intelligence documents from the 1940s that have been declassified in recent years.” —Haaretz

“This book will become a classic on the shelf of those who seek to un­derstand and fight against non-state actors, who were themselves inspired by the Israeli example.” —Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower and Thirteen Days in September

“Gripping. . . . An even-handed work of history that is, at the same time, a morally illuminating and challenging work about the role of violence in politics. [Hoffman] also confronts us with the unsettling truth that sometimes, and especially when the adversary is a democracy that has lost its will to fight, terrorism will succeed.” —Jewish Journal

“This is the most important book for years on the prehistory of the state of Israel. . . . It is an invaluable contribution to the history of political violence and counterterrorism, shedding new light on conditions in which terrorism succeeds and when it fails.” —Walter Laqueur, author of A History of Zionism

“A deftly written account of the Jewish revolt against the British in 1940s Palestine. . . . A page-turner that leaves the reader feeling sorry once the book is finished.” —Washington Free Beacon

“An excellent book.” —The Jewish Chronicle

Anonymous Soldiers is the best comprehensive study of the Jewish extremists’ terror/guerrilla campaign against the British in Palestine. It is also a fine case study of a modern insurgency and counterinsurgency, with lessons for all students of terrorist/urban guerrilla wars around the globe.” —Benny Morris, author of Righteous Victims

“An authoritative, sweeping, important history.” —Kirkus (starred)

“Drawing on prodigious research and employing fine narrative pacing, Hoffman has produced a first-rate work on the ‘endgame’ in the Zionist struggle to establish a Jewish state.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Bruce Hoffman’s magnum opus. . . . This is the definitive account of one of the key factors in the formation of Israel.” —Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

About the Author

Bruce Hoffman is the director of the Center for Security Studies and director of the Security Stud­ies Program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He is also a senior fellow at the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. His previous books include Inside Terrorism, The Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 to Osama Bin Laden’s Death, and The Failure of British Military Strategy Within Palestine, 1939–1947.

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