HEROES: Tales From the Israeli Wars by Peter Hellman

HEROES: Tales From the Israeli Wars

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A well-researched gathering of mini-biographies of remarkable Israelis, but a book often at war with itself. This collection from Hellman (Avenue of the Righteous, 1980) follows hard on the heels of Rosenthal and Mozeson's Wars of the Jews (p. 258), but the two books could not be more different. Hellman's Jewish warriors are portrayed as being at cross-purposes. Tough antiterrorist commando leaders are heard bemoaning the deaths of their targets, and lone survivors of murderous terrorist attacks are seen fighting for better Arab hospital care. Add to these Christlike Israeli ""heroes"" a satanic veteran of four wars and eight wounds who ""becomes cheerful. . .every time there's a shred of a chance that war will break out."" Either way, the vision of the Israel Defence Forces as a civilian army fighting unambiguously for its tiny nation's very survival is challenged. Hellman's journalistic eye also takes us under the bloody helmets of individual soldiers and inside the nuts-and-bolts world of tank repair and design. Perhaps most striking are his recorded instances of bungling and miscommunication on the part of the touted israeli army, mistakes that led to the deaths of some ""heroes."" The Entebbe rescue mission may put ""Desert One"" (Carter's Iranian fiasco) to shame, but Hellman helps put to rest the myth of Israeli Army infallibility. At least among the dwindling secular kibbutzniks that Hellman intriguingly concentrates on, both Israel and her army are seen here to be floundering in a crisis of morale.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1990
Publisher: Henry Holt