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The Last Israelis - an Apocalyptic, Military Thriller about an Israeli Submarine and a Nuclear Iran Kindle Edition
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My skepticism was misplaced. This book is good!
The basic plot centers around an Israeli submarine crew sent on a special mission that the captain suspects may be to launch nuclear weapons against Iran. As the book unfolds, the crew is forced to grapple with their feelings about this possibility, and what ensues is an interesting (and, more importantly, balanced) look at the history of Israel and of current (very current!) events in the region. Sure, there are some weaknesses to it. The crew is a veritable Benetton ad of a wider spectrum of Israelis than you'd expect to find - every possible example of Israeli diversity is included, from a Druze crew member to an Ethiopian one and even a Vietnamese-Israeli. Possible, yes, and it makes for an interesting story, but it stretches plausibility slightly.
Also, much of their story takes place on the sub, which makes for occasionally ham-handed segues to tell the men's stories (lots of important details about their families are told through memories, for instance). Despite some awkwardness, overall I was impressed with the writing. Mostly, however, I was impressed with the author's balance. My initial skepticism was also fueled by the fear that the book would veer into Israeli propaganda, and Beck walks the line nicely and provides several viewpoints without coming off as overly Zionistic. (And Palestine isn't tackled in this book - it focuses on larger middle eastern issues.)
I enjoyed this book. It's timely, it's relevant, and it made me think.
Highly Highly recommend.
Beck has done an excellent job in assembling a motley crew of sailors that represent every possible ethnic and religious expression of the Israeli melting pot. Their inherent mistrust of one another and their different world views make for lively action as the submarine loses contact with Naval Command and must decide whether or not to execute an order to launch nuclear warheads at Iranian targets.
My one regret with this ambitious work is that I wish that the author had fully trusted the action of the novel to make the political points he clearly wants to make. When the action moves the plot forward, the novel is engaging and well written. It is when the action slows to a crawl and the crew members engage in speechifying that the book gets snagged on the reef of the author's submerged political agenda. Beck clearly feels strongly about the danger that Israel may one day disappear if someone does not take a firmer stand against Iran. I would have preferred that he had stuck with "showing me" rather than "telling me" through extended conversation and contrived debates among the submarine crew
Having pointed out this foible, let me say that the overall impact of the story was powerful and very readable. Beck has something to say, and for the most part, he says it well. I look forward to his next works.
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