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. (Jan. 20) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This big, informative book offers objective, clear-eyed analysis interlaced with the stories of statesmen and soldiers major and minor. Rabinovich's readable narrative presents the war mostly from the Israeli perspective, but he provides a fair, even sympathetic, account of the Egyptian and Syrian sides as well. His story fits with the generally accepted interpretation of the war: a successful surprise attack by the Egyptians and Syrians, early military gains for the aggressors, a reeling Israel that gained the initiative only slowly and at great cost, and finally superpower intervention that prevented a clear Israeli military victory but set in motion a political process that resulted in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty six years later. Rabinovich's "boots on the ground" details of this terrible, short war which included the second-largest tank battle in history, fought in the barren sands of the Sinai is a worthy account.
A study of the brief 1973 war that yielded a pyrrhic victory, of sorts, for both Israel and its Arab foes. Israeli journalist Rabinovich, who covered the war for the Jerusalem Post, suggests that the combined attack of Egypt and Syria (and, later, Jordan and Iraq) on Israel was the result of failed diplomacy on the part of both sides: Israel would not budge from the territories it had conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War, and a shamed Egypt would not entertain the thought that Israel might have a point in wanting buffer zones between its national borders and Anwar Sadat's Soviet-equipped armies. Although signs of the impending attack were abundant, and although an enigmatic Egyptian spy had revealed plans for the assault to Israeli intelligence agents, the war still caught Israel by surprise; heads would roll in the aftermath, even if Israeli intelligence chief Eli Zeira, "whose misreading of enemy intentions was the most palpable failure of the war, had a highly rewarding career after his forced retirement from the army as an intelligence consultant to foreign governments." Rabinovich does a fine job of describing the war as it unfolded on the ground, moving from firefight to firefight and crediting both Israeli and Arab soldiers for great acts of bravery under fire; if his account is rather less dramatic than Howard Blum's Eve of Destruction (p. 1053), which covers much the same ground, it will be particularly useful for those interested in battlefield strategy and tactics. Though Israel eventually broke the combined offensive and even had a chance at staging a counterinvasion, writes Rabinovich, the victory was extraordinarily costly: as he notes, the war, which lasted just short of threeweeks, cost Israel three times as many soldiers per capita as the US lost in ten years in Vietnam. An able contribution to the history of the modern Middle East.
"Never before has the Israeli experience in the Yom Kippur War been so sensitively and intricately documented . . . A seamless, riveting narrative [that is] both compelling and intelligent."
—The Washington Post Book World
"The best general history of the Yom Kippur War. The writing is clear, compelling, and precise and offers a good understanding of both the military operations and the political developments. At both levels it was a fascinating war. . . .Outstanding."
"Rabinovich's extra efforts to get inside the minds of Arab generals are especially welcome. . . . sheds light on a conflict that altered the psychology and diplomacy of the Middle East down to the present day."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Superbly written. . . . The Yom Kippur War is easily the best and most complete general history of the conflict."
"Truly striking. Rabinovich's book is brilliant, sweeping and insightful."
"As no one before, Abraham Rabinovich recounts the whole story of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, that most elusive round of the Arab-Israeli conflict."
—Middle East Quarterly
"Superb. I have found few works of military history so difficult to put down."
"Rabinovich displays his keen comprehension of military tactics and strategies with detailed, fast-paced accounts. His eye for political and diplomatic maneuverings is equally sharp."
—History Book Club
"Impossible to put down."
—Gershom Gorenberg, author of Days of Awe
"Its revelations are astonishing. Its prose is gripping. Its conclusions, richly documented and austerely objective, are intensely relevant to the Middle Eastern crisis of our own day."
—Professor Howard M. Sachar, author of A History of Israel
"Abraham Rabinovich has written an exceptionally exciting book."
—Professor Edward N. Luttwak