Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Review: Solitary

Giora Romm
New York: Black Irish Entertainment, 2014
Category: Israel Air Force - Biography

Rating: 4-Stars

Giora Romm was the first Israeli fighter pilot to make ace - shooting down five opposing aircraft while flying the Mirage III during the 1967 Six Day War.  Only a few years later, on Sept 11, 1969, he would be shot down by an Egyptian surface-to-air missile during the War of Attrition.  Romm would spend the next three months as a prisoner of war in Egypt, bed-bound by the injuries sustained during his ejection.

Solitary is the story of Giora Romm's captivity, recovery, and eventual return to flight.  The descriptions of his interrogation - from the beatings to solitary confinement - is punctuated by flashbacks to his life in Israel: attending boarding school; earning his wings; dinner at a restaurant in Gedera after a night-time flight.  His left arm shattered, both legs broken, Giorra Romm would eventually heal - left with an arm that would never completely straighten and with a right leg two-inches shorter than his left.

Despite all that he had been through, and the painful rehabilitation that followed, Giora Romm would insist on returning to flight status - going on to fly the Mirage fighter yet again during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

At its heart, Solitary is not a tale of air combat.  Romm's descriptions of his air battles are relatively terse, lacking the sweeping vistas and descriptions of other first-hand accounts.  What this book is, however, is a tale of determination.  The story of a man who refused to give up, even when doctors told him that he would never fly again, even when the Israel Air Force offered him a desk job, or a quiet career as a transport pilot.  Giora Romm's determination is what shines through: the qualities that made the very best of Israel's fighter pilots the successful warriors that they were.

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