A huge novel which takes on the battles of Israel from A to Zvi who is Mr. Blacker's supra-virile hero. The narrative, which splashes through a sump of introductory participles (""Puzzled, he. . ."" appears with eye-crossing frequency), concerns the fortunes of Zvi and a group of Valiant people seen at the beginning defending the Old City in 1948. This is the story of Zvi's career as a professional soldier. He leads a group of Yemenites to Israel and fights in the guerrilla wars, the Suez conflict and finally the Six Day War. And there are views of Zvi with his women -- his estranged wife whom he loved; the Yemenite who gave him his adopted son Aaron; a bitter concentration camp victim who shot him in an hysterical reaction; other sometime companions and an Arab beauty, Bedia, who shows up everywhere and any time like a dying nerve. In spite of losses of lovers, friends and Aaron, Zvi at the close finds comfort in the imperishable ""ancient hope"" of Israel. A convincing sense of time and place, but deadened rather than illuminated by the same old epic-sized nonentities.