Mark's Reviews > When I Was a Soldier

When I Was a Soldier by Valérie Zenatti
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Aug 19, 2012

really liked it

I really enjoyed Valerie's memoir about her transition from a 'normal' 18yr old girl to an Israeli soldier. It was interesting to read about the influence Israel's mandatory conscription has on the civilian population (sleepy, heavily armed teenage soldiers are a commonplace sight on public transportation) . Whereas most girls at that point in their life would be concerned about college, Valerie and her friends wonder about what branch of the IDF they will wind up in.

Valerie's service starts a full week before her friends and she finds herself struggling to relate to them after just one week at basic training(!). Whereas her friends are still all giggles and gossip Valerie's world is suddenly security drills and Uzis.

Then she gets recruited into the IDF intelligence service! The drilling and testing she has to go through to qualify is mind-boggling to read about, as is the job she ultimately gets posted to.

Since I'm fascinated by the IDF, getting to read firsthand accounts of life in the service was great for me. Valerie is a great writer and has a knack for flowery, yet effective, descriptions. Especially captivating are her internal struggles about her participation in Israel's military and what it means for the Palestinians.
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