From Publishers Weekly
Rabinovich, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, has researched thoroughly and written with clarity, balance and compassion for the victims of a war much larger and fiercer than most Western readers have believed. Anwar Sadat emerges as a major player, having reformed the Egyptian Army and evolved a national strategy of limited objectives. The Israelis, Rabinovich argues, then played into Sadat's hands by intelligence failures that delayed their mobilization, gross underestimation of Arab fighting qualities, and not reckoning on new enemy weapons (the SA-6 antiaircraft missile and the Sagger antitank missile) that would make the Israeli Air Force and armor-heavy ground troops vulnerable. The result was a war that began with serious Israeli losses and major Arab advances, in the Sinai and on the Golan Heights, within miles of Israeli civilians. Sheer hard fighting by the Israelis at the front limited the damage, however, and in spite of leadership conflicts and a few outright failures that Rabinovich dramatizes with flair, a viable Israeli strategy supported by improved tactics gradually emerged. The result was a victory for Israel that was actually more devastating than the Six-Day War, with the added effect of leading to a partial peace with Egypt and later Syria and Jordan. Rabinovich may overpraise Henry Kissinger, and he may underplay the Israeli Air Force, but his book covers everything else at a level equally useful to both the newcomer and the experienced student of the subject.
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The thirtieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War just passed, and this is the second major work to commemorate that conflict. Howard Blum's Eve of Destruction
[BKL S 1 03] tended to focus on more sensational aspects, such as Israeli plans for nuclear war, double agents, and suicide pills for leaders. A resident of Jerusalem, Rabinovich is a journalist who covered the war for the Jerusalem Post
. His work is more restrained than Blum's and emphasizes the military and political struggles. Yet the story contains inherent drama and tension, and Rabinovich effectively captures both. He uses recently declassified materials and information gleaned from participants to reveal how Israel was caught unprepared but managed to turn the tide with some bold tactical maneuvers. His portraits of familiar figures--Sadat, Meir, Sharon, Kissinger--are revealing and often surprising. His analysis of the long-term effects of the war is likely to stoke controversy in both Israel and the Arab world. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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