Middle East Studies

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Victory, Defeat, or Draw

Battlefield Decision in the Arab–Israeli Conflict, 1948–1982

David Rodman is the author of a number of books about Israeli diplomatic and military history. He has also published articles in peer-reviewed journals, including War in History, Intelligence and National Security, The Journal of Military History, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Israel Affairs, Defence Studies, and The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs.

Three outcomes are possible on the battlefield: victory, defeat, or draw. An adversary may defeat or be defeated by its adversary, or neither of the two may emerge victorious or vanquished. Observers of military history have long tried to identify the variables that determine victory, defeat, or draw. While most would certainly acknowledge that decisions on the battlefield are dictated by a combination of variables rather than by a lone circumstance, many observers nevertheless tend to stress a single variable–for example, the number of fighting men and fighting machines deployed by the adversaries, or the operational doctrines employed by the opposing forces–as far more significant to the explanations of these decisions than other variables.

This book, in contrast, takes a multicausal approach to the question of victory, defeat, or draw, proposing that a combination of six organizational, matériel, and environmental variables are pivotal to the explanation of decision on the battlefield. Using the extensive history of the Israel Defense Forces, the book examines a sample of eight battles across the Arab–Israeli conflict from 1948 to 1982 in order to determine the collective impact of the six variables on the outcomes of these battles, concluding that this basket of variables captures much of the explanation behind victory, defeat, or draw on the battlefield, at least insofar as concerns the record of the IDF.

While the research in this book is aimed primarily at military historians and military practitioners, it is fully accessible to any layperson interested in Israeli military history in particular or international military history in general.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78976-095-8
Hardback Price: £40.00 / $55.00
Release Date: February 2021
Page Extent / Format: 172pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes


List of Abbreviations

List of Illustrations



Introduction: Victory, Defeat, or Draw


Chapter 1: The Battle of Latrun


Chapter 2: The First Battle of Abu Ageila/Um Katef


Chapter 3: The Second Battle of Abu Ageila/Um Katef


Chapter 4: Operation Blossom


Chapter 5: The Battle of October 14


Chapter 6: Operation Mole Cricket 19


Chapter 7: Operations Hell and Spring of Youth


Conclusion: Causes of Victory, Defeat, or Draw


Glossary of Technical Terms




David Rodman’s Victory, Defeat, or Draw presents a detailed account of eight critical battles waged by the Israel Defense Forces during its long and storied history. Rodman delves deeply into these clashes, and his conclusions are provocative and might make you rethink why armed forces win, lose, or tie in modern warfare.
Kenneth M. Pollack, author of Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness

David Rodman’s excellent book is timely, as the question of victory or defeat in battle remains a pressing one for both generals and politicians in the 21st century. Using cases from the Israel Defense Forces, Rodman’s research demonstrates that the importance of such classic variables as planning, intelligence collection, and combined arms transcends time and place. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to learn about how battles are fought and won.
Eitan Shamir, senior research associate, BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, and author of Transforming Command

David Rodman’s Victory, Defeat, or Draw offers a timely and sophisticated review of the complex conditions that determined the outcomes of battles fought by the Israel Defense Forces from the War of Independence to the First Lebanon War.
Alon Kadish, professor emeritus of history, The Hebrew University, and author of The British Army in Palestine and the 1948 War

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