American-Israeli author and journalist Halevi (Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist) traces the personal and religious lives and evolving political views of seven paratroopers who helped conquer the Old City of Jerusalem during the1967 Six Day War. They prove a remarkably diverse group: one joins an anti-Zionist movement and is lured into working for Syrian intelligence; another helps found the right-wing settlement movement Gush Emunim; and a third becomes his generation’s most iconoclastic, if underappreciated, songwriter. Halevi traces his subjects’ involvement with, and their country’s shifting moods during, key post-1967 events like the Yom Kippur War and the (first) Lebanon War, the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement, the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, and the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada. He skillfully relates lesser-known events—such as the January 1995 Beit Lid bombing—and conveys the ever-changing nature of Israeli culture and religious life. He also succinctly evinces the national psychology when he writes that “in Israel, no trauma was ever really forgotten, only replaced by a new trauma.” Halevi’s book is executed with imagination, narrative drive, and, above all, deep empathy for a wide variety of Israelis, and the result is a must-read for anyone with an interest in contemporary Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/26/2013 Release date: 10/01/2013 Genre: Nonfiction
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