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Aaron Eitan Meyer (Oceanside, NY)

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Major General Orde Charles Wingate and the Development of Long-Range Penetration
Major General Orde Charles Wingate and the Development of Long-Range Penetration
by L. Rossetto
Edition: Plastic Comb

5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and Complete Analysis of L.R.P, Jan. 15 2004
This work is summed up succinctly by it's title. It is not a biography of Wingate, nor a description of his political beliefs. It shows the development and implementation of Wingate's military theories as they pertain to his concept of long-range penetration. Consequently, the section on the Burmese campaigns is the longest and most in-depth. In it, Rossetto follows each movement step by step, without diverging onto any of the attractive digressions offerred by the subject matter, Wingate. Throughout the work, Rossetto remains the objective observer, underscoring the fact that his analysis is of LRP (Long-Range Penetration) and not to question character or grand strategy concerns on the part of the SEAC or CBI commands. It is a technical work, with appendices consisting of maps, a regimental listing, and other documents germane to the content. While not the easiest to read if one is merely a casual reader (which is unlikely, as the work is clearly not meant as a 'beach read') it is literally essential to truly understanding the military genius of Orde Wingate. For those interested in the progression of LRP or Wingate, this is a must-read indeed.

The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II
The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II
by Donovan Webster
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from CDN$ 1.36

3.0 out of 5 stars Readable, exciting, inaccurate about Wingate, unfortunately, Dec 22 2003
This is a timely, exciting, and fairly comprehensive book on the China-Burma-India theater in World War II, a sadly often neglected area. The characters come to life in a manner that is rare to find in historical works, and are more intriguing therefore. As I was wholly engrossed in reading, however, one point came out and began stinging me repetitively: the statements and characterizations of Orde Wingate. It was only here that the veracity and thoroughness displayed by the author throughout becomes lost. Several examples follow:
For one thing, Webster constantly refers to Wingate in terms like 'flashy' and 'brash,' while painting him to be a glory-seeking man whose judgement was characteristically prone to "lapse[s] of judgement." (p. 186) While in this regard he could easily be reliant on the manifestly innacurate and vendetta-infested Official History written by a certain General Kirby, who was an almost pathological denigrator of Wingate, the sections dealing with Wingate's early career left me more perturbed. It is here that speculation and inaccuracies dominate, at the expense of not only Wingate, but the Zionists as well.
To begin with, inaccuracies such as the rendering of Wingate's Hebrew nickname as 'Hatedud' as being the actual 'Hayedid' abound. The preceding example is glaring largely due to the fact that the word has been often transliterated into English, and is easily verifiable. These, however, are minor, and are no more than worth of a nit-picker's notice, where it not for greater mistakes, or obfuscations.
It is perhaps due to current political considerations that Wingate's Zionism and the situation of Israel at the time prior and through her independence are viewed through a distorting lens, but while it is not particularly crucial to the book as a whole, in the block of 20-some-odd pages on Wingate, it stands out like the proverbial sore thumb. Examples follow.
Wingate's sympathy towards the Zionist cause is presented as resultant to his becoming "...transfixed by the vigor and bravery of the Zionist settlers..." (p. 85) It is also stated that his prior view had as a component the theory that the Arabs were being pushed off their land.(ibid) What actually took place was that his prior viewpoint was largely vague, with some indefinite concept of Lawrencian ideals of the Bedouin archetype. When he arrived as an Intelligence officer, equipped with a translators rating in Arabic and no Hebrew, he decided to literally read all he could on the situation. It is well documented that his exhaustive study, in the first month or so of his stay in Israel was the real impetus for his later embracing of Zionism and the Jews. It was a question of morality and justice to him, only amplified or rather supplemented by his fraternizing with the Jews.
It is certain, however that he believed whole-heartedly in the Zionist cause, and supported it with, as his admirers and detractors both admit, sheer fanaticism. With this in mind, a later statement to the effect that he discourse on length in Burma on a "...delicate balance between Zionism and Palestine..."(p. 104) is not only unlikely due to his nature and beliefs, but is a concept which is only retroactively introduced as a consideration of the time by anyone not speaking out of a position of consolidating power in the region - which he was certainly not doing.
What is far more glaring historically speaking than an analysis of motivations and predispositions is the manner in which Webster describes the Special Night Squads period, and especially the decline and elimination of that group. He contends that the force devolved into "...bullying Arab combatants and prisoners..."(p. 87) and that on one occasion SNS soldiers "...forced their captives to eat oil-soaked sand."(ibid) Let me be quick to point out that the error in facts is most certainly NOT that of the author, but rather in the choice of sources he utilizes. These events and behaviors are not mentioned in ANY place in any of the many biographies that cover Wingate's life in any way. After a comprehensive re-reading of Tulloch's 'Wingate in Peace and War,' Mead's 'Wingate and the Historians,' Rooney's 'WIngate and the Chindits,' Bierman and Smith's 'Fire in the Night,' and the authorized bio by Christopher Sykes in English, as well as the definitive Hebrew texts by Avraham Akavia, it becomes clear that the said events owe their inpiration to recent revisionist historians, largely stemming from Israel's extreme-Left wing.
These events, and any similar to them NEVER appeared prior to the notorious Tom Segev book 'Days of the Anemones,' wherein he cites unnamed sources to promote his version. As my own review of Segev's 'One Palestine Complete' can readily attest, Segev's historical accuracy takes a far-removed back seat to political considerations. (For a better analysis and debunking of such drivel consult Michael B. Oren's outstanding essay "Orde Wingate: Friend Under Fire" in the Winter 2001 issue of Azure.)
I should state again in closing that I enjoyed this work very much, and would not bother writing so passionately if this one flaw were not so glaring and isolated. It is a welcome addition to my personal library.

Power & Powerlessness in Jewish History
Power & Powerlessness in Jewish History
by David Biale
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.40
23 used & new from CDN$ 10.27

2.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting theories but..., Oct. 16 2003
While there is an interesting premise to this work, the history itself doesn't back it up. Biale admirably tries to back up his thesis, and seems at times to be successful. However, it is not only at first glance that this book's information seems largely counter-intuitive. The simple fact of the matter is, as Monroe Rosenthal's book on the subject elucidates, the military tradition has not only been a constant presence in Judaism as a whole, but has been the real guaranteur of Jewish preservation throughout most of history. It is when power in the martial sense is wholly detached from the conception of the Jew that he becomes a free target to all who wish him ill, which is to say many nations and individuals throughout the course of history. It was the existence of the Jewish Parthian cataphracts that in all likelihood caused the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire to refrain from additional pogroms. In the end, while an interesting book to read, and again a change of pace, this book is not the most accurate of analyses of power in Jewish history. Still, if you wish to find evidence to back up certain left-wing theories vis-a-vis modern Israeli deterrence capabilities and the counterproductive impact they have on overall Jewish affairs, this might be the best book for you. Still, I wouldn't recommend this as your focal work to support an educated theory on the subject.

Imperial War Museum Book of War Behind Enemy Lines
Imperial War Museum Book of War Behind Enemy Lines
by Julian Thompson
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from CDN$ 53.20

3.0 out of 5 stars Good resource except for Long Range Penetration information, July 6 2003
In order to give an accurate portrayal of this work, it's contents must be analyzed separately. Its information pertaining to the Long Range Desert Group, SAS, and so forth is engaging, accurate, and comprehensive. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the sections pertaining to the Chindit expeditions of General Orde Wingate. In these chapters, unlike the rest of the volume, much information is ignored, and very few sources are cited, astonishingly few considering the mass of information held at the Imperial War Museum itself pertaining to Wingate. As an example, Bernard Fergusson, Chindit column and brigade leader, is cited as a source, but it is not his earlier, more accurate work Beyond the Chindwin that is cited, but a later book, wherein his own personal recollections have been altered due to prodding by the Official Historians. Similarly, Shelford Bidwell's unbalanced book, Chindit War is a source, while there is no mention of the firsthand accounts by, among others, Chindits Peter Mead and Mike Calvert, not to mention historian David Rooney's illuminating works on the area. Instead, the take on Wingate is not dissimilar in any concrete way to the Official History by S Woodburn Kirby, a work which is decidedly, and unprofessionally, biased against the work of Wingate and his men. Still, all in all, the book is a valuable and readable resource for those interested in war behind enemy lines in World War II, with the exception of the Wingate information. Caveat emptor.

The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict, Revised Edition
The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict, Revised Edition
by Walter Laqueur
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A book worthy of being called objective, March 3 2003
If one is a previously biased reader, this book will doubtlessly contain some documents that are upsetting to read on grounds of including inciteful material. However, the only real criticism that I have is that the 3rd edition has several documents that are of interest to those seeking to research the early Mandatory period, such as documents by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Revisionist Zionist and ideological founder of the Irgun Zvai Leumi. It is understanable though, that as future editions come out the length could get phrohibitively long without pruning some data. As a basic and intermediate level documentary text it is one of the best I have come across.

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate
One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate
by Tom Segev
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.81
34 used & new from CDN$ 2.17

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A crude attempt at revising facts to suit politics, Feb. 5 2003
This was one of the worst-written books I have read on Israel. Segev seems to take inordinate joy in character assassination regarding anyone who may be an exception to his politics. The hopelessly inaccurate information he gives regarding Orde Wingate, the brilliant British military commander, and ardent Zionist and friend of the Jews is a case in point. Since Segev attempts to paint the British in general as pro-Israeli, he must perforce cast the aruably greatest friend the Jews had during the Mandatory years. On the whole, a very questionable piece of pseudo-scholarship that I would advise against wasting time on. Good only as a reference on how distorting this new breed of 'revisionist' historian is.

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