Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review: Raid on the Sun

Rodger W. Claire
Raid on the Sun
New York: Broadway Books, 2004
Category: Israel Air Force - History

Rating: 4-Stars

Raid on the Sun is the most recent book to be published on the subject of Israel's 1981 Osirak reactor raid.  On the one hand, this book is a little more oriented in the direction of retelling the pilots' stories than is Two Minutes Over Baghdad - which tries to be more even between the operational and historical, or political perspective. It also, however, lacks the inside familiarity of life in the cockpit that gives Bullseye One Reactor its sense of immediacy.  The result is a fair retelling, although one which occasionally jars us with a reminder that the author is not as intimately familiar with the cockpit as many members of his audience will be - as when he mistakenly describes the pilot as "pushing the stick" when he meant to say "pushing the throttle".

Coming as it does so many years after the fact, Raid on the Sun was able to take advantage of a relaxation in the tight censorship which once surrounded this raid.  The individual pilots who participated in the raid, and who have since retired from front-line, active duty, can now be named.  Even many of the operational details of the raid that were once shrouded in secrecy can be spoken of.  Claire, for example, is able to reveal that in order to extend their range, the Israeli F-16s that took part in the raid had to be stripped of the Israeli-built electronic countermeasures that they would otherwise have carried.  Instead, the escorting F-15s were outfitted with additional jamming pods to provide cover for the unprotected F-16s.

While Claire was able to speak at length with the individual pilots, and provide some new insights into the raid, Raid on the Sun does not quite live up to the in-the-cockpit feel that accompanies Dan McKinnon's Bullseye One Reactor.  Still, however, a worthwhile read.

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