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David J. Bercuson.

Toronto, Lester & Orpen Dennys, c1983.
278pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-88619-035-5.

Reviewed by John H, Harkness.

Volume 12 Number 3
1984 May

In 1948-49, the Israeli War of Independence was fought and won, successfully establishing the new Jewish State of Israel. Many facets of this war are surprising, especially when we observe this area of the world today. In this new book, David Bercuson, professor of history at the University of Calgary, reminds us of some of these and reveals some less well-known ones.

Which great power allowed the sale 'of arms to Israel? The U.S.A., you would say. Not at all! Britain then? By no means! In fact, Britain sold arms to the Arabs! Surely not the U. S. S. R.? Russia indeed! Czechoslovakia to be accurate, with Russian approval.

Did you also not know that over five thousand volunteers were recruited from many parts of the world to bolster Israel's forces in her vital struggle? These five thousand are "The Secret Army" of Prof. Bercuson's title. The author recounts meticulously, the building of volunteer networks in Canada, the U.S.A., and especially South Africa, where "the government was far more benevolent and permissive than the governments of Canada and the U.S.A."; the covert arms purchasing deals; and the complicated plans required to get recruits and equipment safely to Israel. The author has researched widely as evidenced by his extensive footnotes and bibliography at the back of the book. He also includes an index of personal names and one of places and subjects. There is an eight-page photograph supplement as well.

It is a book that probably appeals to a limited (leadership. The beginning and end are useful reviews of the war but the bulk of it contains exploits, some not very exciting, but necessary to relate, of as many of the five thousand as possible, and one can become just bowled over by the number.

John H. Harkness, Emery C. I., Weston, ON.
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