cover image The Lion's Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War

The Lion's Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War

Steven Pressfield. Penguin/Sentinel, $29.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-59523-091-1

The 1967 Six Day War radically changed the balance of power between Israel and its neighbors, and, according to Moshe Dayan, inaugurated the image of the warrior Jew. Excerpting from 63 hours of interviews with Israeli soldiers, Pressfield (The War of Art) provides an up-close-and-personal, if one-sided, view of the war. The soldiers' and flyers' accounts are particularly notable on Operation Moked%E2%80%94through which Israeli pilots effectively won the war in its first hour by destroying the Egyptian Air Force%E2%80%94and on the battle for the Jerusalem's Old City. For Israelis, the moment when Israeli paratroopers stood at the Western Wall constituted an emotional high point, even a kind of moment of redemption; one soldier, referring to his ancestors who had been killed in the Holocaust, told Pressfield, "if they could know, somehow, even for one second, that I, their grandson, would be standing here... they would suffer death a thousand times and count it as nothing." Pressfield too often sketches scenes without following through with necessary details, and the book could have benefitted from more maps, but it is a colorful and informative view of the war that made contemporary Israel. Photos and maps (May)