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Posted November 15, 2010
This story is about David Levi who is arrested with his father and over 600 other Jewish men and deported from Palestine in 1914 by the British and then sent to Cairo, Egypt. David along with his friends Nathan and Jacob and many other young Jewish men from Palestine becomes a member of the newly formed Zion Mule Corps (ZMC). The ZMC is a group of Jewish soldiers who will support British troops as they fight the Turks. These soldiers receive an army uniform with a Star of David on it and they care for the mules that bring water and supplies to British troops. This is the first time in history that Jews form their own fighting unit. These Jewish soldiers believe that if they fight along with the British they can rid Palestine of Turkish rule and eventually make it a Jewish state. The British have recently declared publicly that they are in favor of the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine. This is why the Jewish soldiers support the British.
David Levi and the others in the ZMC are sent to Gallipoli and it is there that the author, D. Lawrence-Young describes the terrors of wartime and what it was like for Jewish soldiers at this time in history. Avoiding shrapnel, malaria from black fly bites and heat exhaustion these soldiers bravely support the British troops. Some die, others are wounded. Many experience fatigue and injuries. In Gallipoli there are over 10,000 casualties and discouraged, the British withdraw their troops. The Zionist Mule Corps disbandons but the Jewish soldiers regroup into the 38th British battalion. More Jewish soldiers are recruited and a 39th battalion is formed and eventually a 40th battalion.
All these Jewish soldiers are hoping to fight for the freedom of Eretz Israel. They are stationed in Arab villages and eventually in Jerusalem. Under General Allenby's command the Turks are finally defeated and after ruling Palestine for 100 years the Turks are gone and the British are now in charge.
The author uses the main character of David Levi to help the reader understand what it was like to be a Jewish soldier from 1914 to 1918 fighting in the Middle East. While World War II was being fought, other battles in Palestine were taking place which also had a major impact on Jewish history. The roles of men like Allenby, Trumpeldor and Jabotinsky are revealed in this book. If you are curious about the history of Israel and the Jewish people, this book will hold your interest.
"Of Guns and Mules" is the story of an ordinary Jewish young man who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. After reading this book you are able to understand better the longing that Jews had to live free and not be under either Turkish or British rule and the sacrifices they are willing to make to have this happen. The central character, David Levi is a young man who while caught in fighting to free the Jewish people is also preoccupied with the safety of his own family and his love for a young woman at home in Tel Aviv. His innocence, his fear of dying so young and his worries concerning his future all come together to tug at the heart of the reader.
The author promises to continue his story about David Levi becoming an officer in the Haganah and I hope he keeps his promise. I look forward to reading his next book on this subject. I recommend "Of Guns and Mules" to anyone interested in reading a novel that is rich in Jewish history and Zionist zeal!