Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: No Margin for Error

Ehud Yonay
No Margin for Error
New York: Pantheon Books, 1993
Category: Israel Air Force - History

Rating: 5-Stars

There have been many history texts written about the Israel Air Force - the Heyl HaAvir.  Among them however, Ehud Yonay's work nonetheless stands out as a classic, sweeping tale.  What sets Yonay's book apart is the quality of the writing.  Israeli-born, educated in the United States, Ehud Yonay was the journalist who wrote the original "Top Gun" article for the California magazine in 1986, which became the inspiration for the hit motion picture by that same name.  In No Margin for Error, Yonay combined his exceptional writing talents with unprecedented access to the pilots and pioneers of the Israel Air Force - to produce a history of the Heyl HaAvir which captures the nuances and personalities of many of its pivotal leaders.

Yonay's book traces the history of the Israel Air Force from its beginnings as a ragtag band of foreign volunteers flying cast-off warplanes in 1947, to the early 1980s, flying some of the most advanced weapons platforms in the world.  Where Yonay most excels is in bringing life into the men of the IAF, and the battles in which they fought.  His vivid portrayals of Yak Nevo, Ezer Weizman, Moti Hod, and Beni Peled allow each to be brought to life across the pages of this book.  Over 60 interviews went into producing this unique text, a chronicle that provides the personal perspective that is so often lost in many history texts.  These kind of personal portraits, well crafted prose, as well as his direct access to many of the pivotal figures themselves (some of whom are no longer living), are the reasons why I put this book at the top of my Israel Air Force history list.

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