THE WAR OF ATONEMENT: October 1973 by Chaim Herzog

THE WAR OF ATONEMENT: October 1973

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1973, the Israelis actually ""won the most striking victory in their history,"" and now ""Israel must restore the balance of the Arabs' imagined victory."" Such martial clamor ends this narrative evaluation by General Chaim Herzog, whose voice was heard internationally during the Yom Kippur War as a blow-by-blow commentator. Herzog, who is Israel's ambassador-designate to the UN, has held a long series of high paramilitary posts. He also headed military intelligence in 1948-50 and 1959-62. Herzog protests here that intelligence chiefs were scapegoated for the failures during the October War. Golda Meir and the General Staff deserve most blame. Moshe Dayan, indeed, refused to order a preemptive strike against the Syrians, and on the whole is ""overcautious""! At the same time, Herzog frankly describes Soviet abhorrence of Sadat's war plan to restore his domestic prestige, and to hike Arab oil prices with war as the pretext. The book does not go so far as to describe Arab control by American-based oil companies who wanted what the New York Times called the ""oil hoax,"" since Herzog is emphatically pro-U.S. He approvingly quotes Dayan: ""The key to war is the Soviet Union, the key to peace is the United States."" On the level of military analysis, Herzog musters pretty stiff brass. He deplores a lack of administrative discipline, while arguing that the success of anti-tank weapons needn't mean the obsolescence of Israeli panzers. The General contends that a new showdown must come--the Soviets represent ""a determined and unrelenting threat to the security of all of Europe."" This approach will scarcely enhance Herzog's UN credibility, especially since the book is not updated to include the 1975 Soviet offers to guarantee Israel's existence and her 1967 borders; on the contrary, Herzog claims that the USSR denies Israel's right to survive. By the same token, the book is somewhat out of date as a gauge of Israeli factional developments, the latest of which involves Herzog himself--a cousin of Dayan's, he is being attacked for this book's criticisms of the General. All that can be said is that Herzog, a major spokesman, sounds very hawkish indeed. Not only do-or-die partisans, but any reader willing to weigh calls to escalation, should examine the book. It is one of the strongest statements on the Mideast by a topmost official.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1975
Publisher: Little, Brown