Wolf, a native American, became an Israeli citizen in 1985 and then served two years in the Israeli army. His...

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A PURITY OF ARMS: An American in the Israeli Army

Wolf, a native American, became an Israeli citizen in 1985 and then served two years in the Israeli army. His straightforward account concentrates on day-to-day army life, picking up political steam only near the end, when he confronts the Palestinian revolt--the intifada. At times this reads like a generic report of a grunt's life, whether discussing a long hike (""now I get to groan, 'Oh, my aching feet. Oh, my aching feet'"") or weaponry (""I develop a relationship with that gun more intimate than I have ever had with anything""). Wolf takes us through Israeli basic training, and shows how the army is woven into daily life (every citizen serves). The sizzle comes when he recounts life on patrol: protecting Arab girls from right-wing demonstrators, searching houses in Bethlehem door-to-door for concealed weapons, waiting for terrorists on a road in Lebanon. Wolf is torn about the current situation in Israel: looking at the Palestinian plight, he feels ""human shame for how we're treating other human beings, national shame for forgetting all the lessons of our own history""; at the same time, he accuses the press of ""fanning the flames"" and failing to report Palestinian provocations. Thoughtful, fair, chock-full of fascinating details (do you know why a canteen must be full at all times?). Another reminder, then, that there are at least two sides to every story.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 1989

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1989