Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Review: Sword of David

Donald J. McCarthy Jr.
The Sword of David: The Israeli Air Force at War
New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2014
Category: Israel Air Force - History

Rating: 2-Stars

Sword of David is handsomely illustrated, with many full color photographs and beautiful cover artwork. The book traces the history of the Israeli Air Force, touching on key events from 1948, to 1967, and beyond. It provides descriptions of pilots and weaponry, and a smattering of first-hand pilot accounts of events that transpired. The text is smoothly written.

While it does a little of everything, however, Sword of David does none of it in any great depth. The pilot accounts that are included can easily be found elsewhere. The aircraft descriptions are cursory. While it includes key events from many of Israel's wars - including Operation Opera (the raid on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981) and Orchard (the raid on Syria's nuclear plant in 2007) - it leaves out such essential events as the 1956 Sinai Campaign, and the 1969-70 War of Attrition.  Even the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War are mentioned only in passing.

This is not, therefore, a history book, in the mold of such classics as Ehud Yonay's No Margin for Error, nor an encyclopedia of Israeli aircraft, weapons and their history, as is Bill Norton's Air War on the Edge. It is best described as a "coffee table" book - something handsomely illustrated with short enough articles that a guest could leaf through it while the host checks on the oven. There is a place for such books, but they will always pale when set alongside volumes written on history, or biography, or focused on the aircraft themselves. As a coffee table book, I would rate this a solid four-star success. In a blog that focuses on current events and aviation history, however, it does not fare quite so well.

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