I enjoyed this book as a military history enthusiast but, unusually for this kind of publications, this thing actually was also a recomforting, encouraging read, as those real events did show indeed, that there are still real heroes who go to fight real monsters and help innocents - and manage to slay the formers and save the latters, even if those deeds always have a price...
The general story of hijacking of Air France Flight 139 on 27 June 1976, its travel to Entebbe in Uganda and Israeli operation to rescue the hostages on 3 July 1976 is well known, but this book, other than narrating those events, describes also a lot of smaller details about the Israeli political decision processus, Sayeret Matkal preparations, intelligence gathering, diplomatic maneuvering and finally, very comprehensively, the whole action itself. The book is well written and well structured, with no filler. Illustrations and maps are good and the lonely colour plate by Peter Dennis quite honest.
The circumstances of death of Lt Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu and of grievous wounds suffered by Sergeant Surin Hershko are well described, as are the deaths of four hostages who didn't make it: Ida Borochovitch and Pasco Cohen, killed by the terrorists, Jean-Jacques Maimoni, mistakenly shot by Sayeret Matkal soldiers and 75-year old Dora Bloch, separated earlier from other hostages for medical reasons and later savagely murdered on orders of Idi Amin Dada...
This book should please all those interested in military history, special forces and anti-terrorism, but it can actually be also an interesting and comforting read for just about anybody. Indeed, this REAL story shows a horrible act of violence perpetrated by an alliance of two groups of evil people (German and Palestinian terrorists) who then drag their victims to a distant place where they can count on the assistance on an even more evil character (Idi Amin Dad). But then, out of blue and in the middle of the night, arrive a group of genuine heroes, who sneaked into this evil lair without being noticed - then they kill most of the bad guys, humiliate their evil protector and escape with almost all kidnapped victims, losing only their charismatic leader in the fighting... Honestly, if this was a Hollywood film, it would have been mocked endlessly for the impossible plot - and yet, those things really happened.
It is therefore a book warmly recommended not only to the military history freaks (like me) but also to all those, who, tired of seeing so many unpunished acts of evil and injustice around (just watch some news from Syria or Nigeria), need a kind of message of hope, saying that sometimes good guys win, innocent people are (almost all) saved, heroes are celebrated - and evildoers are left lying immobile on the ground in pools of blood, with a lot of bullet holes in them...
on 15 May 2014
The one major draw back to osprey series books like "Raid" is the shocking cost for example £14 odd for a 70 odd page book too me is a no no. That aside I bought this one in a price range I was prepare to pay. Like other Osprey series this one gave a good brief account, if you don't want to go too deep or as a good starting point for a more detailed book.
Have to give it to Israel they were against the clock and had to operate outside Israel and pulled off this operation right down to the timing.
on 8 August 2010
This is the second title in Osprey Publishing's Raid series.
Having just done some cursory research into the Entebbe raid, or Operation Yonatan as it is now known for a model making project, I was thrilled to be sent this book from Osprey. I could have really used it when I was building my Entebbe airport as it contains information and photos of the buildings that I didn't have. There is also a nice looking cutaway drawing of the old terminal and control tower buildings that would have helped me.
The text is concisely written and packs quite a bit of subject matter into a low page count. This book follows the standard Osprey remit of being an introduction to a subject with the option given to read up further if you're interested. As is usual with osprey publications there are many photographs of the people and places involved throughout. From a wargamer's point of view there is enough meat for this to be a one-stop reference. The bibliography lists eight more publications if you want to read up further.
The book opens with an overview of the history of aerial hijacking at the end of which is a two page spread that does a good job of explaining Palestinian paramilitary groups. Although this is a subject with serious ramifications this section reads like the gladiator scene from Life of Brian reeling off a list of the PLO splinter groups, each with ever more ludicrous names and mutually exclusive aims and ideals.
Once the background has been established we get to the meat of the book. In the first chapter the hijacking of Air France flight 139 is recounted in detail with a section devoted to each of the first five days. Some of the margins contain hourly timelines for each day showing exactly when significant events happened.
Chapter two switches the focus and the details of the next two days at Entebbe are interspersed with a description of the Israeli rescue plans that were being formulated at that time. This chapter contains a single colour plate showing an Israeli paratrooper uniform and a second paratrooper disguised in a Ugandan uniform (luckily the Israelis had lots of these as they'd made them originally). This painting isn't great but it's functional, a back view would have been nice but it's adequate as a painting guide.
Chapter three recounts the rescue operation itself. As well as the written description of events there is a good map of the airport, two isometric 3D maps of the operation with added close ups of important parts, the cutaway drawing I mentioned earlier and a map of the area showing the flight to and from that the Hercules transports took.
There is also a two page painting showing the assault going in with Lt Col Netanyahu, the Israeli commander, being shot. This isn't much good from a figure painting point of view as it's a night scene so the colours are distorted and actually isn't a very good painting either, It lacks impact and has no focus as it tries to show the whole scene encompassing several groups of attackers doing different things and takes liberties with the timing of events so it can show them all in the same picture.
Two separate pictures would have been a better use of the space I feel, one showing the first raiders encountering the terrorists and another showing the fatal wounding of Lt Col Netanyahu.
However, this doesn't detract from the usefulness of the book but nor does it add to it which is a shame.
The book ends with an aftermath section that recounts what happened after the raid and updates us on some of the participants followed by a bibliography and an index.
Generally it's a good read and probably worth the money. There are some problems however that prevent this being among Osprey's best. There are several references to Ma'alot massacre with no explanation as to what it was. It isn't until several pages after it's first mentioned that a brief explanation appears in a picture caption, if you're just reading the text and miss this it becomes very annoying a this mysterious Ma'alot is referred to quite a bit.
This niggling annoyance pales into insignificance when compared to the 3D isometric maps. These are the focal point of the book; they each cover a double page spread and show the raid's progress in detail with arrows and notations etc, a familiar sight to anyone who owns an Osprey campaign title.
Well, that is, they should show the raid's progress in detail with arrows and notations but some bright spark decided that because the raid happened at night they should be painted in night colours. The brightest colour on them is dark blue! This, coupled with the reflections from the glossy paper and the page join running through some of the notations, makes them all but illegible. One map is mislabelled too which adds insult to injury.
If these had been done clearly Israel's Lightning Strike would have been an excellent book that I would happily recommend to anybody even remotely interested in the events at Entebbe. As it is the book loses a lot of its impact and falls short of expectations, a real shame.