The Making of the Israeli Air Force
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 An exciting, suspenseful history of the Israeli Air Force (IAF). Investigative reporter Yonay (whose piece on US Navy fighter pilots was the basis for the movie Top Gun) re-creates the travails and triumphs of the IAF through a skillful interweaving of interviews with scores of airmen and government leaders, citations from official archives, published memoirs and articles, and private diaries. When Jordanian and Egyptian forces invaded Israel in 1948, Yonay explains, the just-born nation's air power consisted of only a handful of secondhand WW II light aircraft and a small international group of volunteer flyers. The pilots--idealists and adventurers, Jewish and non-Jewish--were top-notch, but they were also a mostly undisciplined, devil-may-care lot that, during their off-duty sprees, often rode roughshod over nearby Jewish settlements. Chief among the hell-raisers was Ezer Weizman, in later years head of the IAF; balancing his influence was that of serious airmen like Aharon Remez, operations chief of the Haganah Air Service, who sought to mold a sober air force like that of other countries. The amalgam of the wild and serious, Yonay shows, created a potent air force that helped preserve the nation in its four wars. Along the way, the IAF had to grapple with the ground- oriented philosophy of Israel's military establishment. Leaders of the Israeli Defense Forces saw the IAF's mission primarily as one of defense of home territory and support of ground troops, while the attack-oriented IAF believed in striking enemy installations and concentrations behind the lines. Unshackled in the Six-Day War, the IAF's destruction of the bulk of Egypt's air force on the tarmac enabled the ground forces to win their epic victories. This lesson was not applied at the start of the Yom Kippur War, however, and, in that conflict, Israel came close to total defeat. A well-researched, valuable contribution to military/Judaic history. (Photos--not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41563-7
Page count: 383pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993