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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,007 ratings  ·  59 reviews
By turns subversive and darkly comic, brutal and tender, Ron Leshem’s debut novel is an international literary sensation, winner of Israel’s top award for literature and the basis for a prizewinning film. Charged with brilliance and daring, hypnotic in its intensity, Beaufort is at once a searing coming-of-age story and a novel for our times—one of the most powerful, ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by Delacorte Press (first published 2005)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,007 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Aug 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Generation Kill – Israeli Style

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, “
--- “Henry V”, Shakespeare

Beaufort” offers a gripping fictional account of an Israeli defense force manning a desolate outpost in southern Lebanon. Instead of a GWOT, you have a local war on terror and Hezbollah. Ron Leshem creates a fully believable world of full metal jacket, so realistic you can almost smell the cordite, sweat and bl
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Military History or Israel
Recommended to Mahlon by: Tal Amiel
Shelves: read-2008
Beaufort is a gripping novel about a company of Israeli soldiers serving in the ancient crusader castle of the same name. At the time it was being used by the IDF as an outpost in their war on Hezbollah. Reminiscent of "All Quiet On the Western Front" Lesham's haunting prose illuminates many of the same themes, and gives the reader a window(as much as a book can) into what it was like to serve in Lebanon in the late 90's, and the bonds that only the shared experience of combat can form, remindin ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the best novel I've read about men in war since Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried". In a flood of language (translated effectively from Hebrew to English) we are swept into a world of words describing experiences that have no counterpart in everyday life. The young IDF soldiers stationed inside Lebanon during the 1980s and 90s occupation of that country, led by a nonstop talking narrator, fill the boredom of their lives and block out the terror of their perilous position as a target ...more
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Beaufort reads like a war memoir, down to the grittiest or most tedious details of military life, and I was stunned to learn when I read the author's bio that he himself had not served in Lebanon. Leshem did an amazing job of reporting to create this book.

He also does the neat trick of choosing a narrator who would seem to be the last person I'd sympathize with -- hard-core macho, sexist, racist anti-Arab working class Israeli guy -- and yet builds up a respect and affection for this fellow.
Ayelet Waldman
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm on an Israeli novel kick. This one, about the war in Lebanon, is great. The movie was pretty terrific, too.
"We sit up here at Beaufort, disconnected from everything, drawing rockets and mortar shells and explosive devices, endangering our lives, just so we can continue sitting at Beaufort. That's the entire mission. What a shitty feeling." (pg. 130)

Israeli journalist Ron Leshem interviewed IDF soldiers who sat up in the ancient crusader fortress named Beaufort during its occupation of the Lebanon border area that lasted from 1982 to 2000. In his novel, the exact detailing of the mundane, what soldier
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up for a Modern Middle East class, but I absolutely loved it. Now, I'm kind of obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the history and current conditions of this area.

Beaufort takes place in 2000 in Lebanon, focusing on a group of Israeli soldiers. This book is amazing; its raw, real, and completely devastating. Written by a journalist, it really gets down to the experience of war, not just the dramatic story line. People see a lot of crap in war, and in many ways,
Alan Jay
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have been focused more on Non Fiction reading about Zionism, Israel, and Antisemitism, so this foray into Fiction was a welcome change. My wife has been suggesting that I read this book for a while since we read the book "PumpkinFlowers" by Matti Friedman. This was a fictional account of the Lebanon war, not by someone who lived through it; but, by a journalist who interviewed many people who were in the war. I found the book to be well written, though at times a little confusing. I do not kno ...more
Patrick Johns
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, rich, entertaining, educating and moving book. This book is in the tradition of Catch 22 and before that Evelyn Waugh: a meditation on horrors, futility and chaos of War, its purpose and justification and its effect on the individual. For me the main theme of this book is the conflict between the military and the civilian existence, and the ability (or inability) of the individual to reconcile one to the other. This is beautifully exemplified by the narrator, Erez when he returns to ...more
Oct 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of shallow caricatures drawn by the typical leftist Tel Avivian. There's Rambo-like knucklehead that disobeys orders due to anger management issues, An Ars that is extremely unintelligent but has a golden heart, religious people that are conflicted about it and of course endless idolization of the "thoughful" representative of the Israeli far left. All the characters might as well appear in Eretz Nehederet sketch. Moreover, the voice of the author comes through the again and ag ...more
May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
If I could, I would read this book in Hebrew, instead of the translated version. However, I did still really enjoy it and the way it was written.

It's heartbreaking and honest and vulgar and a good way to learn more about the Israeli army, and what the soldiers go through.
Jan 11, 2021 rated it did not like it
A poorly written militaristic novel. Should not have been written.
B. Glen Rotchin
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
"You're a different generation, a generation that asks questions. And we are obligated to give you answers."

The quote comes from the novel Beaufort and is spoken by General Kaplan, the only character that the author claims was based on a real person. No truer words are said in the book. This novel questions the sacrifice made by a generation of Israelis who fought an eighteen year military stalemate against Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Southern Lebanon. Lebanon has been called Israel'
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Far superior to the already powerful film adaptation I recently saw (thank you BBC4!) - The main protagonist - Liraz - a young infantry Lieutenant, finds himself in a position of command at the remote IDF outpost atop the hill at Beaufort - a medieval Crusader fortress ruin - in turn of the century south Lebanon. It is the weeks leading up to Israel's final withdrawl from this front. After a lengthy period of disillusionment and despair at the regular losses for those 'back home' starts to perva ...more
Anuj Dyamanna
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I chose to read this book because of the interesting blurbs telling me that this book was not just about conflict and war, but also about bonding between the soldiers who have to go out to the front lines.

This book is about a commanding officer Erez and his 13 man squad in a place called Beaufort. They have to defend themselves and Beaufort against the Hezbollah while balancing their own fear of being killed. This book has a lot of abusive language and talks about sex and war and friendship betw
Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
I started reading this book when I couldn't find the DVD in the library. Half way through the book I obtained a copy of the movie and viewed it.
A soldier can only do what he is commanded to do - in this case maintain the Israeli location at Beaufort outpost during the first Israel / Lebanon confrontation. The book relates the experiences of a squad stationed at Beaufort. You realize how young soldiers are and that they have to mature under the constant shelling around them and having to follow
April Helms
Jan 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
I tried to read this late last year, so this should go under 2009 attempts. Oh well. I got about halfway through the book before giving up. When you look at a book and are thinking "Ugh, I still have to finish this..." it's time to find another book. The pity is the story itself has potential. The story is told from the point of view of Erez, the squadron leader at Beaufort in the year before Israel's withdraw from South Lebanon in 2000. You would think that such a setting, with all of its polit ...more
Dara Salley
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
I didn’t think this was a terrible book. It just wasn’t for me. I’m not really interested in stories about war. This one was a first-person narrative about a war in Lebanon from an Israeli point of view. The book was mildly interesting and I made it through the whole thing. The best parts of the book were not the action sequences, but the reflections of the meaning and brevity of life by the protagonist. The book had many parallels with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just because both ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: neo-con chicken hawks
Shelves: gave-up-on
This book, from the cover, to the jacket notes and first chapter, has all the marketing of an anti-war novel. And that makes it one of the most misleading books I've attempted to read. In terms of the war, there's nothing subversive about this book. I've often wondered whether the US was the only country left in the world that still glamorized war post-1918 and 45 (you'll never find anything close to ambiguously supporting war in any other country that participated in WWI or WWII), but it looks ...more
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Engaging and fast-paced read. It makes me want to know a lot more about what went on in Lebanon as Israel was finally forced, via national and international pressure, to leave their defensive positions in the south.
Some of the pages near the end were chilling, when Leshem writes with definiteness about the need to re-enter Lebanon in the future, words that were proved true in Israel's last mismanaged war.
Still, the writing as a whole was a bit sloppy, almost rambling and repetitive at times. I
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adults
Recommended to Ziv by: my father
Through extensive research, Ron Leshem discovers and shares the trials and tribulations of soldiers fighting a useless fight. There's no whitewash, and there are no excuses offered for the complex characters who face impossible tasks in their formative years. The narrator's sanity is questionable, and yet Leshem's development makes him sympathetic most of the time, and even heroic sometimes.

I was openly skeptical when I read the first chapter - it's a bit risky to start with that much emotion ou
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lorelei by: Zechy
Shelves: fiction
An incredibly good book, very sad and inspiring and exciting and intense and moving and hopeful and, well, it's a book about war. And soldiers. I found it VERY difficult to read - often only managing a few pages at a time before needing to take a break - but utterly worth it. Not for the faint of heart, or for people who really think the world's problems can be settled by slogans. It's told from an Israeli's point of view, but has no political axe to grind. It just tells a story about what it wa ...more
Barak Kassar
Jul 05, 2008 rated it liked it
an anti-war novel with a gung-ho protagonist. lots of great israeli pop culture references. in fact the book itself now is a pop culture phenomenon in israel. i liked it a lot. and i cried. in hebrew the title is "if there is heaven" and it's from graffiti written on the fort (Beaufort) where the israeli soldiers that are the characters in this book spend their time. "if there were heaven it would look like this, if there were hell it would feel like this" i have never been in lebanon but i have ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lee by: by Haim Watzman--check out his books too
So far, gripping. I'm reading it partly for research for my novel--to expand my understanding of soldiers' experiences during the Lebanon War so that I can better represent my soldier character's angst and post-tour trauma. Wish there was a similarly well-written book chronicling the early years of the first Lebanon War (this one is set in 1999 and later--my novel is set in the early to mid-1980s). If you know of one (or a former IDF soldier who served in Lebanon in the early days who could shar ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish
I loved the film. It captured the sense of what a soldier feels in a way almost no other war film does. The book is better. All the incidents from the movie are there, but in a different order and the flow of time loses much of its meaning as Lt. Liraz (squad commander and narrator) focuses on what he and his squad members are feeling. I classes the book as Jewish and it describes well what IDF vets have said to me over the years, but it is more universal than just the Jewish or Israeli context. ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
Comic at times representation of the Israeli side of the conflict. It's much easier to find Palestinian reports of them as the oppressed people, now here is a picture of Israelis as the oppressors, but not just that, it goes so much deeper as the issue gets more complex. Both sides see armed action as necessary to protect their people. Good book, which brings a comic side to the dispute, which is greatly needed. ...more
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
The writing here wasn't stellar but the story was pretty interesting. It was about a group of Israeli boys guarding the border to lebonon in the 90's. If everytime it got too Band-of-Brothersy and I thought "uhg is this such a BOY book" I reminded myself that this not only really happened but is still happening, It became pretty heartwrenching. ...more
Sep 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a platoon of Israeli soldiers stationed on an outpost in Lebanon during the war the last war with Lebanon. It's a hellish story of young men besieged. I'll confess I didn't make it all the way through. But it's well written and is one of the few books I've seen on soldering in the Israeli army ...more
Craig Brantley
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
War novel or anti-war novel? Both. Great characters and a very interesting setting that I knew little about makes this one of the best books I've read in awhile. I have to see the movie. Parts of the translation (formatting, long paragraphs!) and multiple references to Israeli pop culture are the only draw backs for the novice. ...more
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good historical novel. Liked the way author delved into the characters' lives making them human. Interest information that I did not know. Heart breaking and emotional seeing the mission through the soldier's perspective; their relationships with fellow soldiers and importance of mission. Very realistic. ...more
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