Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book Review: Bullseye One Reactor

Dan McKinnon
Bullseye One Reactor
San Diego, CA: House of Hits, 1987
Category: Israel Air Force - History

Rating: 5-Stars

There have been a number of books written about Israel's raid on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.  Of these books, this remains my favorite.  The author, Dan McKinnon was himself a former U.S. Naval aviator.  He was therefore able to bring to this book a practical, experienced perspective of this historic raid - which others were unable to replicate.

McKinnon tells this story from the pilot's perspective.  This is not the story of the political wrangling that went into the decision to launch the air raid, and it is not the story of Israel's intelligence agencies which at first sabotaged Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions, and later provided the targeting inform necessary to carry out the raid.  No, this is the story of the men in the cockpit who executed the raid.

McKinnon was the first journalist to be given free access to the Israeli pilots - long before their identities were released to the public.  He therefore had to resort to pseudonyms for each pilot, rather than acknowledging each by name.  McKinnon's perspective on what it's like to fly a jet fighter at tree-top level for hours on end, however, all to reach a target undetected, is what sets this book apart.  This is the real drama, the people who risked their lives to carry this raid out.  The months of training, practice and preparation, the hours in the cockpit with sand dunes streaming by, the pop-up and targeting maneuver over a hostile reactor dome ringed with anti-aircraft artillery and missiles.  This is the human dimension to the story that needed to be told, and McKinnon delivers it.

This book was in printed in hardcover under the title of Bullseye One Reactor, and later in softcover under the title of Bullseye Iraq.  In either edition however, this was the story that needed to be told.

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