In this riveting autobiography, Colonel Muki Betser, Israel's premier special-warfare commander and counterterrorist for 25 years, recounts the inner workings of Israel's elite forces which until now no high-ranking military officer has been allowed to reveal. A natural leader, Betser counseled his country's most eminent leaders (Meir, Begin, Shamir, Rabin), then executed their most crucial missions.
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A revealing account of a 25-year career in the Israeli special forces. Betser joins Israeli warriors like Dayan, Eitan, Kahalani, and Sharon, who have collaborated with American writers to produce chest-thumping biographies featuring their contributions in Israel's major wars. This book differs in that Betser, fighting as a member and then leader of Israel's top anti-terrorist commando unit, largely describes the planning and execution of missions between the wars. Co-author Rosenberg does not have to exaggerate Betser's dramatic life, but as a thriller writer (The Cutting Room, 1993, etc.), he adds some necessary tension and plotting to Betser's curt, military description. Making up for dry and self- serving passages (``when you serve as a model, you're a commander and not a soldier'') are running narratives of bravado behind Egyptian lines in the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War, a mission to kidnap Syrian generals in Lebanon, the assassination of PLO planners of the Munich Olympics massacre, the Entebbe hostage rescue, and more. Betser was a natural for the Entebbe mission, since he had trained Idi Amin's forces in an earlier Uganda stint. Anecdotes from Africa show Betser overpaying servants and saving elephants from the rocket grenades of his trainees. Betser loves danger too much to convince us that he misses his ailing wife and Nahalal farm, but he does have the integrity to criticize incompetence in the Israeli Defense Forces. He is harsh about the political factors that created 2,569 casualties in the Yom Kippur War and painfully aware of the mistakes that cost the life of Yoni Netanyahu, the only Israeli soldier killed at Entebbe. It is Rosenberg, we suspect, who tries to make Betser into a ``secret dove'' in the introduction and epilogue. Secret Soldier adds much to our understanding of Israel's covert fighting arm. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
The Israeli Defense Force has dazzled the world with its surgically precise antiterrorist missions, conducted with a minimal loss of human life. Many of these operations have been the work of the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit. The group's former commander, Betser, now presents his life story, and in the process pulls back some of the shroud that has long concealed the inner workings of Sayeret Matkal. The result is a captivating personal view of high-stakes special warfare. With the help of mystery writer Rosenberg (The Cutting Room), Betser chronicles his own role in well-publicized victories, such as the 1976 rescue of passengers from an Air France flight held hostage in Entebbe, Uganda; and in lesser-known failures as well, including the bold hijack of an Iraqi commercial aircraft mistakenly thought to be carrying the infamous terrorist George Habash. The former commando doesn't skimp on detail, delighting with such tidbits as the revelation that a commando disguised as a female tourist stuffed his bra with hand grenades. He speaks eloquently of the role of commando units, but also deplores violence, capping his riveting combat stories with a paean to peace that's all the more poignant because it's penned by a warrior.
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