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October 24, 2003 - Image 80

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Jewish Book Fair

Israel On The Brink

Other Israel/
Mideast Titles:

The Case For Israel' Author Alan
Dershowitz, a
Harvard law pro-
fessor, explains
why Israel, while
not perfect, is in
THE
fact the sole out-
CAS E
post of liberty and
11-'()R
democracy in the
IsRAFA
Middle East, and
thereby has earned
the right to exist
within secure
boundaries and defend itself
Dershowitz speaks 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 6, at the JCC in
West Bloomfield; $10.

Thirty years after its inception, author uncovers the truth about
the war that almost destroyed the Jewish state.

WALTER BOYNE

Ibooks. corn

he fine hand of an accom-
plished novelist is easy to
detect in The Eve of

Destruction: The Untold Story
of the Yom Kippur War (HaperCollins;
$25.95), a page-turning nonfiction
account of one of the most important —
and most overlooked — wars of the lat-
ter half of the twentieth century. Called
the Yom Kippur War by Israel and the
October War by its Arab enemies, this
conflict very nearly spelled the end of the
Jewish state.
Author Howard Blum, a former New
York Times reporter who is now a con-
tributing editor to Vanity Fair, introduces
an entirely new perspective to the war,
describing it in intensely human terms,
from the almost unbelievable story of a
brave tank commander and his lover to
the bitter political infighting in Tel Aviv
and Cairo.
He manages to humanize even the
shadowy individual whose double-
betrayal went unknown for 30 years.
Blum recounts how Anwar Sadat mas-
terminded a totally new approach to
engaging Israel, even as he manipulated
Hafez Assad of Syria, other Arab allies,
the Soviet Union and the United States.
Sadat, previously underrated both by his
countrymen and by his enemies, proved
himself to be a wily politician, able
strategic planner, and unquestionably the
hero of the short war that brought Israel
to the eve of its destruction.
Some 40 characters march across the
pages of the book, ranging from hard
fighting Israeli and Arab soldiers to
their squabbling general officers, and
including many of the heads of state in
the Middle East. Blum is skilled at
recreating conversations that bring
home the meat of the story, something
that he could do only through the
meticulous research that took him to
the principals, the men and women
whose lives were both disrupted and

JN

10/24
2003

80

Walter J. Boyne is the former director of
the National Air and Space Museum and
the author of "The Two O'clock War:
The 1973 Yom Kippur Conflict and the
Airlift- that Saved Israel."

tant, his Egyptian infantry, well armed
shaped by the Yom Kippur War.
with Sagger anti-tank missiles, had been
The author writes incisively of both
the macro and the micro stories of the
drilled in Soviet style defensive tactics,
and were able to defend against the sharp
war. The latter he does through the
incredible love story of Yossi Ben Hanan
Israeli counterattacks.
In those battles the Arab soldiers won
and Nati Friedman, whose courtship,
marriage and honeymoon all take place
back the honor they had lost in the bitter
in the maelstrom of war.
Six-Day War of 1967. Yet Sadat's very
strategy, which limited the pene-
The macro story is told
on two levels. The first of
tration of the Egyptian armies to
just a few square kilometers, per-
these is the awesome and
incredibly detailed accounts
mitted the Israelis to hold on,
of the actual desperate
and to counter the attack from
fighting in which the Arabs
the north where the overwhelm-
throw themselves upon
ing armored strength of the
Syrians threatened to overrun the
their confused and ill-pre-
pared enemy. The second is
Golan Heights and drive rapidly
into Israel's heartland.
an incredible story
of espionage at the
The author sustains excite-
ment and suspense through
highest level, one
that resonates today
every page, in part through his
authentic re-creation of battle
in the United States
Ho ward
scenes and in part through the
as a result of the
Blu
truly romantic story of Yossi
uncertain outcomes
and Nita's love affair. The two,
of the wars in
Afghanistan and
honeymooning in Katmandu,
return to Israeli in time for Yossi to lead
Iraq.
Sadat cleverly contrived to provide his
a battle-saving tank charge.
Israel, with a population of 3 million,
country with the one weapon the Israelis
could not counter: a genuine surprise
fields a small professional army that
works so closely together that the rela-
attack on two fronts. He did so by
manipulating the legendary Israeli intelli-
tions of officers and men are intimate. As
a result, the inevitable casualties are
gence service as well as the unfortunate
hubris that possessed all of Israel except
extraordinarily depressing, for each one
affects an irreplaceable friend. Blum's
for a few key players whose instincts —
writing illuminates this sad saga.
and warnings were ignored.
In the style of a mystery novelist, Blum
The Egyptian president played the
supports the exciting account of the bat-
Soviet Union and the United States like
des with the real engine of the book the
rival lovers, obtaining unheard of quanti-
ties of surface-to-air and antitank missiles slowly unraveling mystery of the master
from the former, and establishing secret
spy who had managed to deceive Israel
with utterly believable false reports.
lines of communication with the latter.
The Eve of Destruction is invaluable for
As Blum, author of The Brigade (now
the lessons it teaches about the uncertain-
being made into a movie) and The Gold
ty of modern warfare, and for the under-
of Exodus among others, establishes,
standing it provides about the current sad
Sadat achieved almost all his goals within
the first few hours of the war, so thor-
state of affairs in the Middle East. 0
oughly defeating Israeli infantry, armor
and air forces that a veteran warrior,
Howard Blum speaks 6:30 p.m.
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, con-
Sunday, Nov. 9, at the JCC in
cluded that the "Third Temple" was
West Bloomfield, free, (248)
about to fall.
432-5577; he also appears 8 p.m.
In effect, Sadat moved his armies
Monday, Nov. 10, at the JCC of
across the Suez Canal and into the Sinai
Washtenaw
County in Ann
desert under an umbrella of surface-to-air
Arbor, free, (734) 971-0990.
missiles that rendered the Israeli air force
initially impotent. Perhaps more impor-

Support Aig Friend- Kennedy's
Mirk& East and the Making of the
II.S.11srael Alliance: Author Warren
Bass, a senior fellow in U.S. foreign
policy at the Council on Foreign
Relations, high-
lights President
John F. Kennedy's
Ameri
can
r 4srle iii
Pion eeing

foreign policy.
Bass speaks 8:15
on ay,
at the

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