The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World (Hardcover)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * How has a small nation of 9 million people, forced to fight for its existence and security since its founding and riven by ethnic, religious, and economic divides, proven resistant to so many of the societal ills plaguing other wealthy democracies?
Why do Israelis have among the world’s highest life expectancies and lowest rates of “deaths of despair” from suicide and substance abuse? Why is Israel’s population young and growing while all other wealthy democracies are aging and shrinking? How can it be that Israel, according to a United Nations ranking, is the fourth happiest nation in the world? Why do Israelis tend to look to the future with hope, optimism, and purpose while the rest of the West struggles with an epidemic of loneliness, teen depression, and social decline?
Dan Senor and Saul Singer, the writers behind the international bestseller Start-Up Nation, have long been students of the global innovation race. But as they spent time with Israel’s entrepreneurs and political leaders, soldiers and students, scientists and activists, ultra-Orthodox Jews, Tel Aviv techies, and Israeli Arabs, they realized that they had missed what really sets Israel apart.
Moving from military commanders integrating at-risk youth and people who are neurodiverse into national service, to high performing companies making space for working parents, from dreamers and innovators launching a duct-taped spacecraft to the moon, to bringing better health solutions to people around the world, The Genius of Israel tells the story of a diverse people and society built around the values of service, solidarity, and belonging.
Widely admired for having the world’s highest density of high-tech start-ups, Israel’s greatest innovation may not be a technology at all, but Israeli society itself. Understanding how a country facing so many challenges can be among the happiest provides surprising insights into how we can confront the crisis of community, human connectedness, and purpose in modern life.
Bold, timely, and insightful, Senor and Singer’s latest work shines an important light on the impressive innovative distinctions of Israeli society—and what other communities and countries can learn.
About the Author
Dan Senor is coauthor of the bestseller Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. He was a senior advisor to Paul Ryan’s 2012 campaign for vice president and foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns. A former Defense Department official, Senor has been based in Baghdad and at US Central Command in Qatar, and was a US Senate aide in the 1990s. He has written for The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA TODAY, and The Washington Post. He is the host of the Call Me Back podcast. Today, he is an executive at an international investment firm. He was educated at the University of Western Ontario, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Harvard Business School, and lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
Saul Singer is coauthor of the bestselling book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. He is a former editor and columnist at the Jerusalem Post and has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other publications. Singer has given keynote speeches at innovation conferences around the world including Beijing, Sydney, Singapore, London, Madrid, Amsterdam, Oslo, Nairobi, and Sao Paulo. Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served for ten years as an advisor to US Members of Congress. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children.
“You can’t understand this war without understanding Israel, and this book helps people do that.” —Tony Dokoupil, CBS News
“The Genius of Israel has much to teach us. . . . A book that deserves a wide audience in the United States and other modern democracies . . . In reading The Genius of Israel, I found myself repeatedly thinking, wincingly, ‘That used to be us.’ What happened to the America that raised its adolescents to seek adventure, not ‘safety’? What happened to the America where extended families were close, and multigenerational dinners happened every week, not just at Thanksgiving? What happened to the America in which people had great common formative experiences of public service, including military service, that bonded them in spite of political differences? What happened to the America in which everybody felt free to say exactly what was on their mind, and nobody felt embarrassed by ordinary expressions of patriotism? What happened to the America in which the most ferocious critics of a right-wing government were fiercely devoted to preserving the institutions of government, rather than to tearing them down? What happened to the America in which the words ‘Let’s try it’ came readily to the lips of entrepreneurs, military officers, and even bureaucrats, as opposed to ‘Check with legal’?” —Bret Stephens, Commentary
“A portrait of a society that, often seen as fractured and fractious, is surprisingly unified and happy. . . . A thought-provoking study that non-Israelis will find particularly fascinating.” —Kirkus Reviews
“How has the tiny country of Israel, beset by external foes and internal strife, stayed so resilient? This book offers big ideas for how all of us, not just Israelis, can tackle the central challenges of our times.” —Walter Isaacson
PRAISE FOR START-UP NATION:
“Start-Up Nation is an eye-opener. It should be taken as an interim report on the history of Israel, a country that is itself a perpetual start-up. In it, Dan Senor and Saul Singer tell the story of people who defied what existed and challenged the conventional.” —Shimon Peres
“Senor and Singer’s experience[s] . . . come to life in their illuminating, timely, and often surprising analysis.” —George Stephanopoulos
“Dan Senor and Saul Singer have done the impossible: They’ve written a book that doesn’t examine Israel through the prism of its conflict with the Arabs. This is a story about Israel, of course, but it's a story with universal implications. Start-Up Nation is, among other things, an indispensable business book. I wish I had thought to write it.” —Jeffrey Goldberg
“Fascinating stories of innovative ideas and huge gambles that have paid off for Israeli entrepreneurs. A book I think every single Arab businessman, Arab bureaucrat and Arab politician should read.” —Fareed Zakaria
"There is a great deal for America to learn from the very impressive Israeli entrepreneurial model. . . . Start-Up Nation is a playbook for every CEO who wants to develop the next generation of corporate leaders." —Tom Brokaw
"In the midst of the chaos of the Middle East, there's a remarkable story of innovation. Start-Up Nation is . . . a timely book and a much-needed celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit." —Meg Whitman