A tart, funny Israeli novel in which the protagonist, one David Zuta, swaggers, sweats, spies and elaborately fornicates from the War of Independence in 1948 through the Arab-Israeli War of 1956. David's guerrilla sorties, with which the saga begins, are not peculiarly successful. Leading a squad of one night-blind American and three excitable Hungarians, he just never quite copes with guns and flamethrowers that don't work (except to burn the backside of a comrade), and a huge, slavering, barking dog. But David's later work under the great Intelligence wizard, ""The Professor"" is as outrageously successful as any endeavor must be in the ongoing fight for survival. And there are the nights of brandy and passion flowers--an uncomfortable but glorious coupling under the lid of a grand piano vibrating on the sands of a beach; an all-night party with poets rolling on the floor and a footprint on the ceiling. Yet throughout the frenzied nonsense, there is the tension of a life which holds the extremes of gaiety and the hovering presence of death and annihilation. ""If life is an illusion,"" says David lying low on a hillside, ""then who is that firing at me?"" ""God,"" answers a companion firmly. And to the Divine directive, ""Bring forth My people,"" this uncommon common man inevitably answers ""Who? Me?"" Light-spirited with the aftertaste of bitter herbs.