"Pacy and enthralling." —Financial Times
"Tells the story brilliantly." —Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
"Stimulating and insightful...will no doubt find a permanent place on the Arab-Israeli bookshelf." —Michael Oren, New York Times bestselling author of Six Days of War
October 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, a conflict that shaped the modern Middle East. The War was a trauma for Israel, a dangerous superpower showdown, and, following the oil embargo, a pivotal reordering of the global economic order. The Jewish State came shockingly close to defeat. A panicky cabinet meeting debated the use of nuclear weapons. After the war, Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned in disgrace, and a 9/11-style commission investigated the “debacle.”
But, argues Uri Kaufman, from the perspective of a half century, the War can be seen as a pivotal victory for Israel. After nearly being routed, the Israeli Defense Force clawed its way back to threaten Cairo and Damascus. In the war’s aftermath both sides had to accept unwelcome truths: Israel could no longer take military superiority for granted—but the Arabs could no longer hope to wipe Israel off the map. A straight line leads from the battlefields of 1973 to the Camp David Accords of 1978 and all the treaties since. Like Michael Oren’s Six Days of War, this is the definitive account of a critical moment in history.
If the 1967 Six Day War was an unmitigated triumph for Israel, the 1973 Yom Kippur War was very nearly a total disaster, argues real estate developer Kaufman in his deeply researched debut. Israeli forces initially were surprised both by the Egyptian army on the east side of the Suez Canal and by the Syrian one in the Golan Heights, despite advance warnings about the attack. After enormous losses of men and military equipment, Israel triumphed, yet the country's national self-confidence, so inflated after the earlier war, was seriously shaken, while that of those in the Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria rose dramatically, making possible, Kaufman contends, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's groundbreaking 1977 trip to Israel and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty two years later. Less convincing, however, is Kaufman's contention that the Yom Kippur War paved the way for the 2020 Abraham Accords. Kaufman, who spent more than 20 years researching this book, using both English and Hebrew sources, devotes most of his narrative to a lucid recounting of military engagements, while his political analysis is less developed. Still, this is a well-paced and informative account of a consequential conflict.