Seasons of Captivity: The Inner World of POW's

Amia Lieblich, Author New York University Press $50 (344p) ISBN 978-0-8147-5079-7

Here are the recollections of 10 Israelis who were captured in 1969 and spent three-and-a-half years as prisoners of war during the War of Attrition, mostly in a single cell in Cairo. The story of how they created their own social system through group projects (translating The Hobbitt into Hebrew, for instance), study programs, rotating chores and keeping a group diary, renders the book an unexpectedly upbeat account of an ordeal. Lieblich, a psychologist, spent hundreds of hours interviewing the men and found no evidence of mental breakdown, self-destructive bahavior or prolonged depression. She interestingly notes that the prisoners maintained a certain impersonality toward one another throughout their incarceration (``Had we revealed everything to each other, had we talked freely about our despair and longing, we would all be crazy by now.'') Lieblich also notes the positive effect on morale of their pet cats, several of which the men brought to Israel when they were released in 1973. This engrossing study, told mainly by the subjects themselves, is a valuable addition to POW literature and is unique for its positive view of wartime captivity. Lieblich heads a women's studies center at the University of Jerusalem. (Jan.)