YONI - HERO OF ENTEBBE by Max Hastings


Life Of Yonathan Netanyahu
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Yonaton Netanyahu, Yoni, was the 30-year-old leader of the Israeli force that rescued the hostages at Entebbe and he was its only casualty. His mission and his death made him a national hero in Israel and this book, unabashedly the story of a hero, describes with dignity and restraint who he was and what he came to represent. Restraint might seem misplaced in a tale of twelve years of rescues, raids, defenses, and attacks, each of which calls for the whole list of heroic adjectives. Yet it seems appropriate to a soldier who was an avid chess player and had spent several semesters studying philosophy and mathematics at Harvard. His greatest devotion, however, was to the land of Israel and to "Zahal"--its uniquely individualistic defense force. He wrote to his parents in America, "In this country, at this moment, being in the army means to be inside"--outside lay bureaucracy, corruption, and shoddiness. "In Israel, if you want to see creative brilliance, look for it in the army." Rising from the ranks, like all Israeli officers, Yoni gained experience in the paratroops, special forces, and armored commands. The spirit and direction of the army is traced through his career from the exuberance of the mid-Sixties, to the overwhelming confidence after the Six Day War, and then to the war of attrition and the near-disaster of 1973. Finally even Netanyahu, to whom the army was a home, "lost faith in the power of Zahal alone to preserve Israel from her enemies." The mission to Entebbe did much to rebuild that faith. Hastings' admittedly censored account offers few new details of the raid, but it does deal in a limited way with the lack of military preparedness in 1973, the blunders on Mount Hermon, and the subsequent demoralization of the army. Although he ignores the price the Arabs paid, Hastings implies through Yoni's story that the profound personal and cultural costs of being a nation at war may not always be redeemed by victory. It is a one-sided tale, but it is a side well told.
Pub Date: July 1st, 1979
ISBN: 0297775650
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1979


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