I started reading the book and found that the first few chapters contained so much detail and were so full of similar Arab names that I started to feel that I would not enjoy my read, then as I read on, I felt that the author, Guy Laron should be congratulated for his detailed research which took him over most of East and Western Europe, the Soviet Bloc, the Far East and the US. After chapter five I found I was right into a good read. From the book I have changed my ideas of what Foreign Aid means and on how devious and conniving Governments can be. A £250,000.000 aid loan to, say Egypt, meant they could have the loan providing Egypt Bought goods and foodstuffs to the tune of say £100.000.000 and the remainder of the loan spent on military aircraft and tanks, all purchased from the lender. France were the biggest offenders in the 1960s followed by the USA and the USSR. Most of the Arab countries took loans and played The US of against Russia, some taking from both sides and then sub-letting the loans to minor African nations like Uganda at extortionate interest rates.
- Guy Laron
The Book shows the CIA to be so full of double agents that it is, or was, quite useless as a secret service. To find out anything one just picked up the phone. I also got the feel that the Author may have been anti British, he refers to, The Bankrupt British Empire, He claims that Lyndon Johnson Bankrolled the British Borneo and Aden campaigns in order to save America having to get involved, as Johnson declared ‘I got my hands full with Vietnam’ Lyndon Johnson comes out of the book quite well and seems to have been a sound but shrewd character. On His maiden speech in Congress in 1937 listened to by Roosevelt, Roosevelt claimed “ I think he will be our first Southern President”; how right he was.
During 1966 Nasser sent troops to the Yemen in order to destroy the Royalist government there. Egyptian casualties were high, as the author claims the Royalists were aided by British and Rhodesian Mercenaries, In fact I know that it was British and Rhodesian SAS units, also in 1967 President Johnson informed Egypt that if they came out of Yemen and did not interfere with the Aden war, and left Israel alone in peace, if they didn’t comply then he would stop the US wheat aid to Egypt. I was in Aden at the time and feel that my life may have been worth just a few sacks of American buck wheat. We also wondered why we had so many British Grenades being used against us; from the book it shows that Nasser collected them from the many British Arms dumps left behind after Suez, and sent them down to his agents in Yemen for transport to the terrorists in Aden.
In 1967 Israel was ruled by the what the citizens called ‘The Old’ all of them including Golda Meir and Ben-Gurion were in their mid to late seventies. The younger ones under forty five years were referred to as the ‘young,’ the old were The Doves and the Young were the Hawks. There were frantic visits to Western powers also to the USSR during the early months of 1967, the author also shows the infighting between the Doves and Hawkes within the Israeli government. In June 1967 on the arrival back in uniform of Moshe Dayan the die was set, and well the Arabs and the Israelis at home knew it, It was a question then of not if the war was to begin, but when.
The Author keeps one waiting until the last chapter of the book then tells of the splendid Text Book very successful air and land attacks by the Israelis. The only words of command issued by the Arab armies were, “Grab you weapons and move back”, the run became a route and one Syrian General galloping back on a stolen donkey to avoid Israeli fighter attack The first men back in Cairo from the Sinai desert and on day one of the war on the Egyptian side were the Egyptian General Staff and their aids. The whole of the Egyptian army were on the run as soon as the first shots were fired.
Syria was more trouble during the 1960s than they are now, like Iraq they had about half and half Ba'athists and Sunnis, they had been at each other’s throats for centuries and it has not stopped yet. Syria were even more cowardly than the Egyptians in the panic driven flight to get back from the front
The Arab states, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq were only ever practised in the art of defence and belligerence, while the Israelis were so well practised in the attack that it was second nature to them. As the author puts it: The Israeli Defence force is in fact an attack force. Attack is in their DNA and in their bone marrow, it would be good for the Arab world to realise this, and thus live and let live’
Though it was supposed to be a secret attack, how well the western powers and the USSR knew what was afoot, also it was easy to see who had aid from whom by their Battle Hardware in Tanks and aircraft. There was a big rush afterwards by the bigger powers to see the effect of their use. The Russians were quite put out by the effect of the Israelis use of British anti-tank ammo in their centurions. It went through the T55s like cream cheese, the result was a quick effort to produce the T72.
I recommend the many interesting anecdotes in the book from the world leaders at the time, an example by Kosygin the Russian: ‘ NATO was formed to keep the Germans down, The Americans in Europe and the Russians out’ also the fact that the Russians wanted the war so they could have a Port in the Middle East in order to keep surveillance of the US 6th Fleet. The Americans wanted it so as to keep the public eye off Vietnam and lusted after the Middle East arms sales afterwards. In this respect the Israelis went to war with a ‘nod and a wink’ from the US, and a pat on the back from the USSR. Publicly of course both were shouting Stop!!
However the book changes nothing in the admiration that most people hold regarding the skill in battle of the Israelis, I recommend the book and award four stars, I take away the fifth because of the author’s tendency to ‘skip about the years’ a little too much in my opinion, and it was a little difficult to keep up with that. However the book fulfilled its task of providing excellent coverage of those six very eventful days in 1967. Recommended!