Netanyahu, 30 at the time, led and was the only one to die in the breathtaking Israeli Defense Forces paratroop raid on Entebbe in 1976, ""Operation Jonathan."" Already a hero in the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars, Yoni, as he was called, had a background of American education--high school and, briefly, Harvard (his scholar-father was based in the US)--but Israel and the Israeli army were his true allegiances. ""In the army I have learned to appreciate the beauty of life, the immense pleasure of sleep, the taste of water, which is irreplaceable, the matchless value of willpower and all the marvels a man can do if only he will."" This Kipling-esque fortitude runs throughout the letters, utterly incredible but for the fact that Netanyahu was an outstanding commander, was astoundingly brave: the goody-two-shoes tone of most of these letters (primarily to his parents) has, then, some documented foundation. More ragged edges do show--women trouble, divorce, despair over Israel's future--yet these don't make much of an impression. But the ""self-portrait"" of the title is less than fair advertising, be warned. Unable to freely recount some of his most valiant and daring efforts (a secret night landing into the heart of Beirut, to execute PLO bigs; the kidnapping of Syrian generals for the purpose of prisoner exchange), Netanyahu has to stick to the most general, sometimes pious truisms, which end up suggesting evaporating jet trails in a clear, brilliant sky. Inspirational reading for a limited audience.