Winner of the National Jewish Book Award
Winner of the Washington Institute Book Prize
One of the Best Books of the Year
St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Kirkus Reviews
In this groundbreaking work, Bruce Hoffman—America’s leading expert on terrorism—brilliantly re-creates the crucial thirty-year period that led to the birth of Israel. Drawing on previously untapped archival resources in London, Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem, Anonymous Soldiers shows how the efforts of two militant Zionist groups brought about the end of British rule in the Middle East. Hoffman shines new light on the bombing of the King David Hotel, the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo, the leadership of Menachem Begin, the life and death of Abraham Stern, and much else. Above all, he shows exactly how the underdog “anonymous soldiers” of Irgun and Lehi defeated the British and set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the creation of the formidable nation-state of Israel.
One of the most detailed and sustained accounts of a terrorist and counterterrorist campaign ever written, Hoffman has crafted the definitive account of the struggle for Israel—and an impressive investigation of the efficacy of guerilla tactics. Anonymous Soldiers is essential to anyone wishing to understand the current situation in the Middle East.
Hoffman (The Failure of British Military Strategy in Palestine, 1939 47), director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, covers the activities of the Jewish underground, particularly the Irgun and Stern Gang, during the revolt against the British rule of Palestine between February 1944 and the U.N. partition resolution of November 1947. He shows that the Jewish guerilla war, unlike the Arab revolt of 1936 39, was largely urban, and notes that the Jewish Agency and the Haganah, the mainstream Zionist political and military bodies, usually acquiesced to and sometimes openly cooperated with the Irgun, as in the crucial July 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel. Hoffman is particularly good at showing how the British advantage was eroded by vacillating strategies and policies toward the Yishuv (Jewish settlement), which viewed British soldiers and police as "an unpopular, repressive occupation force," despite British soldiers and police outnumbering Jewish underground members by 20 to 1 in the mid-1940s. The British attempt to bring the revolt to heel was also undermined by woefully inadequate intelligence on the Jewish underground. Drawing on prodigious research and employing fine narrative pacing, Hoffman has produced a first-rate work on the "endgame" in the Zionist struggle to establish a Jewish state.