THE YOM KIPPUR WAR by Abraham Rabinovich


The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East
Email this review


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 three weeks, 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.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 2004
ISBN: 0-8052-4176-0
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Schocken
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2003


NonfictionISRAEL by Danny Danon
by Danny Danon
NonfictionRETURN TO ZION by Eric Gartman
by Eric Gartman
NonfictionMOSHE DAYAN by Mordechai Bar-On
by Mordechai Bar-On