Tuesday, May 15, 2018
The Lion's Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War Hardcover – May 6, 2014 by Steven Pressfield (Sentinel)
Pressfield serves up another extraordinary story. This time he binds together a collage of first person accounts into an extraordinary narrative. Pressfield tells this story from up and down the Israeli, IDF, and IAF ranks and across the international machinations into the run-up and conduct of the 6-day war. Pressfield sets the stage to zoom into the microscopic society of civilian/soldier kids in combat. The kids are led by surprising and extraordinary civilian/commanders to simply never give an inch. The reason was pretty simple as no less than victory and more, that no battle can be lost in so small a geography and no loss is too great to grant the last man standing a retreat. In typical Pressfield style, the meat of story grows to an unstoppable read.
Pressfield explains up front that this is an unapologetically biased portrayal from his perspective. Reviewers that might pan the book as one sided are more than adequately warned. Pressfield has the eyewitnesses named for the skeptic to question.
Reading a book delivers a particular experience to the reader. The experience here is the combination of a superb book multiplied by one's own recall of the events and the still central and current global realpolitik.
I can recall the UN withdrawal from Sinai at Nassar's demand and we knew it was for the express purpose of clearing the way for the Muslim Nationalist's run at their own final solution. I had forgotten that the US was not Israel's ally. I had forgotten that France, alone, was Israel's only material ally. I mentally moved the French up a few notches of respect.
"In '67 the army is too poor to have its own trucks for troop transport. We must use civilian vehicles ..." This is not an easy book for a `pro-Israel' American to read. It's uncomfortable. Its gut wrenching, actually. My stomach churned at every instance of America's overt abandonment of Israel. Pressfield simply states the facts and the resignation that 'it is what it is' from the kids fighting to survive with the weapons of past generations. Pressfield leaves the reader to ponder the matter.
I had so erroneously imagined that the US and Britain did something, anything to help Israel in this war. The US and Britain outrageously abandoned Israel to fate. Just as outrageously, the USSR weaponized the Muslim Nationalists with their very best tech. Israel fought this war against the `state of the art' military tech, surrounded on three sides, with their backs against the water and outnumbered in all ways by 2, 3, or 4 to 1 with no friends willing to make a stand. Israel triumphed mightily all by themselves to earn the respect that has come to define them as the eternally underestimated underdog.
Kudos to Pressfield for writing the book he wanted and I appreciate. It blew the fog out of my own memory to deliver a total experience.