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The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  741 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
In this galvanizing account of the most dramatic of the Arab-Israeli hostilities, Abraham Rabinovich, who reported the conflict for the Jerusalem Post, transports us into the midst of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Rabinovich’s masterly narrative begins as Israel convinces itself there will be no war, while Egypt and Syria plot the two-front conflict. Then, on Yom Kippur, Saturda
Hardcover, 543 pages
Published January 20th 2004 by Schocken (first published 2004)
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Derek Weese
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It isn't often that I read a book about a historical subject that I know little about. Usually I tend to read about events that I already have a lot of passion for, this book was not one of such books. The 'Yom Kippur' or October War is an area of history I always found interesting yet never bothered to read more than a magazine article on. To anyone who wants to read a well written, dramatic yet not over done book that is for the common masses yet still delves deep into a very complex and fasci ...more
G.d. Brennan
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Abraham Rabinovich has written the best kind of history with "The Yom Kippur War": as focused and detailed as the text under a scholar's magnifying glass, as sweeping and cinematic as the landscapes in a David Lean epic.

The Yom Kippur War itself was as dramatic an episode as any in the modern Middle East. Six short years before, Israel had won one of the most convincing military victories any nation has ever won in war; it had captured 42,000 square miles, swelling the country to three and a hal
By far the best general narrative on the war of 1973 written so far. Rabinovich's book, while written necessarily from the Israeli point of view (given the paucity of Arab primary sources on the war, especially from Syria) is objective as it can be. The war itself is covered at all levels, from governmental down to the experiences of individual soldiers. But perhaps the best part is the exploration of the pre-war hubris and arrogance of the IDF and of Israel in general after the victories in the ...more
Tom Nixon
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The history of the modern Middle East is complicated enough to begin with- but when you throw in this rich, detailed examination of one of the most complex and curious wars ever fought between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the word 'complicated' doesn't even begin to do it justice- and one thing is for certain- Abraham Rabinovich, US Army Veteran and journalist in both the United States and Israel has managed to produce what may well be the definitive account of a very complicated war.

So what h
Scott Holstad
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the better military history books I've ever read, and I've read a LOT of them over the years. I've long heard of the Yom Kippur War, but didn't really know any significant details, other than the combatants and the outcome (which turned out to be wrong; the outcome was much more complex than I had believed). This book not only filled in the gaps, but had so much detail and even minutiae, that the author really took you into the tanks where shell shocked men survived amidst corpse ...more
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rabinowich provides one of the best tactical-operational accounts of a major modern war I've ever read. Accounting for the fact that only the Israeli archives have been opened or perhaps even kept in the first place, the author does an amazing job of describing the combat and decision-making on the ground in the Sinai and the Golan. Furthermore, he gives an excellent account of the technological, doctrinal, and tactical changes that allowed the Egyptians to make stunning gains in the beginning; ...more
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished a couple of books this week. First was The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed The Middle East by Abraham Rabinovich. It was significantly better than The Eve of Destruction. If you're interested in the Arab Israeli peace process it is fundamental that you understand this war. This book explains the change in political mindset of the Egyptians and Israelis brought about by this war better than any other I've read. It explains the stalemate created by the 6 Day War and ...more
Scott L.
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be an excellent book, that tells the story of the Yom Kippur war from the strategic all the way down to the tactical level. The book is very clear about the mistakes that both sides made, and how the Yom Kippur war lead to the later Israeli - Egyptian peace pacts. The only downside to the book is that the Egyptian-Syrian side of the story is not given a lot of the story, Rabinovich preferring to tell the story from more of the Israeli viewpoint. He is, however, very fair when it ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cold-war
Perhaps the most thorough book on the subject matter. Despite this fact it is tremendously readable. It is a step above 'No Victor, No Vanquished' by Edgar O'Ballance (Which I loved as well) due to the fact it presents more information that is now available that O'ballance didnt have access to when he wrote his book so close to the end of the conflict. Personally I think the pair go together perfectly, No Victor, No Vanquished as an excellent intro laying the ground work and this for the follow ...more
Levie Galapon
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy to read and offers a lot of military and diplomatic insights to the Yom Kippur War
Michael Seufert
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: porto
Very interesting and well-researched it was a great read.
Robert P. Hoffman
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 60% of the book is a masterpiece. The author does an extraordinary job of discussing the background to the war, the reasons Egypt expelled the Soviets, the strategies that Sadat pursued, and, most importantly, how the Israeli political and military leaders overlooked clear and compelling evidence of an imminent attack by Egypt and Syria.

The author makes clear that Israelis had contempt for the quality of the Arab armies and leaders. The did not believe Israel would be attacked because
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this read into one of the most critical moments in Israeli and Middle East history. Mostly looks at the war from the Israeli side though there is some material from the Egyptians as well. Apparently there is not much information that the Syrians wanted to share. The end of this war brought about officially recognition of Israel from Arab states and helped cement Israeli military power in the minds of their enemies. I wish this book had a few more maps but otherwise it was a great read.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent overview of the Yom Kippur War. The book appeared fair to both the Arabs and the Jews. The author told the story of what events led up to the war, each sides actions during the war, the political backdrop, and reconciliation. My biggest criticism of the book is that the author glanced over the impact Russian and American aide had in the war.
Don Roxby
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read. Found it difficult to put down. The story it tells is inherently filled with almost unbearable drama and tension. The Yom Kippur war was a pivotal and truly historic event that completely altered the course of history in the Middle East. The author provides the context, details and personal stories that bring the story to life. It's a fairly long book but I never found it boring.
David C. Crosby
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Satisfying military history

Surprisingly little is available about the Yom Kippur War to the average reader of military history. The book contains a satisfying level of detail concerning both the military and larger geopolitical aspects of the conflict.
Rod Innis
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of a very important war in the history of modern Israel.
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend. Gripping, which is saying a lot for a book about a 1970s war.
This is as well-researched and well-written a book about a war as you will find. (It helps that the war lasted less than a month, which makes getting into tremendous day-to-day detail comparatively easier than it would have been with a conflict that lasted for years.) Abraham Rabinovich deserves full credit for making the most of the opportunity to put national leaders, international diplomats, military chiefs of staff, field commanders, unit leaders and common soldiers under an unsparing micros ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To be frank, this book was almost deserving of the phrase "boring as fuck". I kept thinking that the battles would have better described by David Weber - don't laugh, I could see the similarities between Weber's Honorverse space battles and the tank battles of the Golan Heights. Rabinovich's descriptions lack coherency and most of the time it was difficult to remember what was going on, who the players were, where we were, and when we were. Every time some general was mentioned as not having a g ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A broad, thorough history of the Yom Kippur War. Rabinovich succeeds in putting the war into its historical and regional context. He describes how Israel’s stunning victory against all odds in 1967 led to a certain institutional arrogance that hampered Israel’s ability to improvise, and how Israeli commanders bickered among themselves, suffered from intelligence failures, lacked adequate artillery and infantry forces, had overconfidence in their air force and armor (“We’ll have one hundred tanks ...more
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book does an excellent job of recounting the entire Yom Kippur War from both the military and political standpoints. The first 100 pages cover the lead up to the war and the diplomatic maneuverings on both sides. It assesses the United States and Soviet Unions role and the fear of what detente would mean for the participants. You even see the ironic nature of Jordan's King warning Israel of the impending attack. Israel left itself blind to the possibility of an attack and was caught complet ...more
David Miller
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a first-rate history: highly informed and reasonable in its conclusions, with a compelling collection of anecdotes and details. It is a balanced book, which considers the motivations of all sides in the war without assigning any of them a villainous status; rather, it's a story about many nations trying to change the course of international politics.

It's the history of a war, and so for people who are weary of history as an endless litany of the dates of kings and battles, that may be of
William Johnson
The Yom Kippur War by Abraham Rabinovich is infinitely more interesting when dealing with politics rather than military logistics. This is, of course, a personal preference – I’m not much of an armchair general, and, like Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, as quoted in the book, I do not know the difference between a battalion and a division (nor do I care).

I would recommend this book to that special breed of person who enjoys dense military-histories regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Incide
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I greatly enjoyed reading this book and read it more than once. A masterful narrative of the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel on one side and Egypt, Syria, and their allies on the other. Both fronts are covered as well as the political and diplomatic aspects of the war. A non-fiction account, it reads almost like a novel describing various episodes of the war with artistic mastery. The reason I gave it four stars is because I was a little perplexed by the conclusion. "Who won?" asks the writer ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic account of the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Egypt and Syria on one side and Israel on the other (with the USSR and USA serving as suppliers and ultimately peace brokers — Kissinger mainly, while Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate scandal), from a mostly Israeli perspective (Egyptian sources are present; Syrian sources apparently almost nonexistent). Rabinovich shows great ability to present both the compelling stories of relatively small battles and of the individuals who fought them, ...more
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nearly done, but don't expect my opinion to change. It is an excellent overview of the most relevant of the Arab-Israeli Wars to the the crises of 2012.

While focusing on the Israeli perspective (Rabinovich was a war correspondent), it also gives good insights into the Egyptian side of the conflict. There is no Syrian perspective, because the Syrians have not spoken about the war to Westerners. Perhaps understandably: Syria came breathtakingly close to overrunning Israel in the first few days of
I was interested in learning about the Yom Kippur War - and "mission accomplished" having read this book. It is very thorough, and for the most part, an enjoyable and fast moving read. The author goes through the war in great detail, from the events leading up to the start of the conflict--including the incredible arrogance of the Israeli assessment relating to the danger the Arab armies posed--, the treacherous first few days, the strong Israeli recovery and the end game. It is largely told fro ...more
Michael Johnston
A dramatic and insightful history of the Yom Kippur war with political, diplomatic and military stories interwoven to create a comprehensive picture of an exceptionally important moment in recent Middle-Eastern history. There might be a bit too much detail on the military actions of small units, but at least in part this is done to give the reader an urgent sense of the battle.

There is a tremendous amount of insight into the failings and great heroism of the Israeli military leaders as well as
Aug 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
Meticulously well-researched but and incredibly detailed but perhaps too much so; it did, after all take me five months to get through it. Of course, it's not like I read it straight through, either. Oh well. I do think it needs more maps. I would say a map per chapter is completely justified. A dramatis personae also would be useful, not just a list of interviewees. There were so many minor characters who would be mentioned in one chapter and then pop up again 10 chapters later, after switching ...more
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Abraham Rabinovich is a journalist born and raised in New York City. A graduate of Brooklyn College and a US Army veteran, he worked as a reporter for Newsday and arrived in Israel on the eve of the Six Day War. After completing his first book, The Battle for Jerusalem, he joined the Jerusalem Post as a reporter and feature writer. His freelance articles have been published in The New York Times, ...more
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