How Breaking with the Past Brought Peace to the Middle East


The Trump administration’s peace agreements in the Middle East were the greatest foreign policy accomplishment in decades. Now, for the first time, his ambassador to Israel explains how they pulled it off.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity. For decades, the U.S. State Department called it diplomacy.

David Friedman was an outside candidate when President Trump appointed him U.S. ambassador to Israel. He took office to find U.S.-Israel policy stuck in stalemate. For years, accepted wisdom was that extensive experience and detailed knowledge of Middle Eastern history and culture were necessary to negotiate treaties. In truth, Friedman realized, all parties played on that accepted wisdom to stall—expecting to get a better deal further down the road.

Tossing the State Department playbook aside and incorporating insights from his many years as a negotiator in the American private sector, Friedman and a small team with no prior diplomatic experience revamped American diplomacy to project “peace through strength.” He emphasized the importance of leverage, the key to any good negotiation. After painstaking, behind-the-scenes work, the Abraham Accords were signed: a historic series of peace deals between Israel and the five Muslim nations.

In Sledgehammer, Friedman tells the true story of how the Abraham Accords came about. He takes us from the Oval Office to the highest echelons of power in the Middle East, putting us at the table during the intense negotiations that led to this historic breakthrough. The inside story of arguably the greatest achievement of the Trump Administration, Sledgehammer is an important, inspiring account of the hard, hopeful work necessary to bring long overdue—and lasting—peace to one of the most turbulent and tragic regions of the globe.

About the author(s)

David Friedman served as the United States Ambassador to Israel from 2017 to 2021. Under his leadership, the United States made unprecedented diplomatic advances, including moving its Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and, of course, brokering the Abraham Accords. For his efforts, Friedman was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and received the National Security Medal. He lives with his wife Tammy in Jerusalem.


“When David Friedman took office, the Middle East was seen as a place of intractable conflict. When he left, the Middle East was blossoming into peace between Jews and Arabs. David Friedman was the right historic figure in a tumultuous, chaotic, and ultimately transformative time. In Sledgehammer, David tells the inside story of how the Trump administration changed the Middle East for the better.” — Ben Shapiro

“Ambassador Friedman was essential to the historic progress the United States made in the Middle East during the Trump administration. His book, Sledgehammer, offers important lessons in leadership. He clearly understood that American interests were served by standing firmly with our ally Israel, even when it meant going against long-standing policies. America and Israel are better off because of him.” — Nikki Haley

“The last peace treaty between Israel and an Arab neighbor had been signed in 1994 with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Since then, all the efforts made by multiple US administrations to advance Middle East peace went nowhere. Thus, the Abraham Accords, that brought about normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab states, represented a sharp break from the failures of the recent past. David Friedman provides an insider account of that gripping story in Sledgehammer.” — Dore Gold

“In his book, Sledgehammer, David Friedman, the former US ambassador to Israel, provides his intriguing firsthand, behind-the-scenes account of the extraordinary peace initiatives President Trump and his team, in close coordination with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, launched, leading to the historic Abraham Accords. Friedman was at the center of the most diplomatically successful, pro-Israel administration since that nation's founding. I encourage you to get a copy. Sledgehammer is a must-read.” — Mark Levin

More Middle Eastern

More Political Science

More All Other Nonfiction

More Peace

More Historical

More Political Economy