For the most part the reminiscences of the Israeli foreign minister suggest that growing up in the Galilee in the 1920s and 1930s was rather like growing up in any rural fastness prior to mechanization. A communal billy goat and ram make the children of Kefar Tavor ""sensually alert"" from an early age, and the exertions of a touring stallion attract the entire population--as does the weekly arrival of Masud, the peddler from Tiberias. True, the Jewish village is surrounded by a double wall, with a barbed-wire fence beyond that, and in his bar-mitzvah year Yigal is presented with a semiautomatic Browning pistol (unlicensed) which he already knows how to use. But one would not guess from the occasional run-in with Arab raiders of the intense conflict to come. Neither can one foresee that the book will ultimately coalesce around the struggle between Allon and his towering father over the fate of the family farm. His older brothers have departed, he is his father's only hope; and he opts instead for communal farming in a kibbutz. Much later the old man, an adopted kibbutznik, salutes the kibbutzim as a sanctuary and support. The reader who stays with the book will be moved, but only those with a consuming interest in Israel are likely to.