Rabinovich, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, has researched thoroughly and written with clarity, balance and compassion for the victims of a war much larger and fiercer than most Western readers have believed. Anwar Sadat emerges as a major player, having reformed the Egyptian Army and evolved a national strategy of limited objectives. The Israelis, Rabinovich argues, then played into Sadat's hands by intelligence failures that delayed their mobilization, gross underestimation of Arab fighting qualities, and not reckoning on new enemy weapons (the SA-6 antiaircraft missile and the Sagger antitank missile) that would make the Israeli Air Force and armor-heavy ground troops vulnerable. The result was a war that began with serious Israeli losses and major Arab advances, in the Sinai and on the Golan Heights, within miles of Israeli civilians. Sheer hard fighting by the Israelis at the front limited the damage, however, and in spite of leadership conflicts and a few outright failures that Rabinovich dramatizes with flair, a viable Israeli strategy supported by improved tactics gradually emerged. The result was a victory for Israel that was actually more devastating than the Six-Day War, with the added effect of leading to a partial peace with Egypt and later Syria and Jordan. Rabinovich may overpraise Henry Kissinger, and he may underplay the Israeli Air Force, but his book covers everything else at a level equally useful to both the newcomer and the experienced student of the subject.
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