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Lonely Soldier: The Memoir of an American in the Israeli Army Hardcover – June 27, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Released at a time when soldier memoirs seem to be a dime-a-dozen publishing phenomenon, Harmon's entry should be celebrated as much for what it isn't as what it is. This is an even-paced, detailed, deliberate account of a sincere New Englander's move to Israel in 1990, where he enlists as a paratrooper just before the beginning of the Gulf War. Despite his weak grasp of Hebrew, Harmon graduates from basic training and soon finds himself guarding the country's borders and volunteering for raids against known and suspected terrorists. Throughout his service in the West Bank and Lebanon, he maintains a measured tone sympathetic to the hardships of neighboring Palestinians, even as he's called back from civilian life following an upswing in violence. For such a strictly chronological account-not merely day-to-day but at times moment-to-moment-Harmon's work is surprisingly captivating. Though he isn't always able to distinguish between pertinent and expendable information, Harmon's voice is so consistent and genuine that it's impossible not to identify with his steadfast journey. An illuminating account of a much-covered conflict, this is a memoir for anyone who wants a look behind the daily headlines.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This well-told tale of an American Jew in the Israeli army adds notably to our knowledge of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1990s. Harmon traveled to Israel during his college years and decided on a permanent move after graduation. He was fit enough to be accepted for the elite parachute and recon units, donning an IDF uniform for the first Gulf War and the second intifada. Thereby he adopted the perspective of being early on the scene when terrorism struck the local shopping mall, riots arose outside a favorite nightclub, and a pitched battle was only a commute away. He provides many vivid portraits of fellow soldiers in the world's most reticent army but not much on weapons and tactics, for which the IDF is no doubt grateful. His attitude is that of an observant Jew and a strong Zionist, and with passion and clarity he enlightens us about a crucially significant fighting force not covered with this kind of intimacy by the general media. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; First Edition edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891418741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891418740
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born and raised in New Hampshire, I moved to Israel because I felt a deep connection to the country and the people. Joining the military was more about shouldering my responsibility as a member of the community than a personal mission to experience life as a soldier.

To my great surprise, I soon discovered that the Israeli military culture - it's pursuit of excellence, focus on collaboration without regard for rank, and high moral standards - was a very good fit for me.

Since 1990, I have served with the Israeli Paratroopers and a Special Operations reserve unit. Even though I live and work in the US today, I still return for reserve duty.

As such, I have conducted operations against Hezbollah in Lebanon, carried out missions in the West Bank and Gaza during the first Intifadah - including the capture of the PLO headquarters in Ramallah) - and served as a reservist throughout the Oslo Peace Process.

In 2002, when the second Intifadah reached its peak and the IDF called up its military reserves in order to retake control of the West Bank and Gaza, I flew back to Israel from the US, where I was working.

And in 2003, I returned to serve in the Jenin region. My unit took part in operations that led to the capture of a leader of the Islamic Jihad, several suicide bombers, and other organizers of terror.

Given my age and background, my ability to contribute directly to the security of the US is limited. As a way to do my part, I have volunteered a considerable amount of time briefing members of the US Marine Corps, the US Army, and RAND on my experiences with the IDF. The information I provided was incorporated into US Marine Corps officer training prior to deployment in Iraq.

In 2006, I participated in the US Army's premiere wargame, Unified Quest. Participant input is an important part of US military efforts to improve current capabilities and prepare for future conflicts.

In addition, I have lectured at the US Army Combat Institute at Fort Leavenworth on the political consequences of military operations.

As a guest on several CNN and Fox programs, nationally syndicated radio programs, and local news talk radio shows, I discuss current events in the Middle East and counter-insurgency best practices.

And when I'm not lecturing at universities, community events, or at government agencies around the country, I live near Washington DC with my wife and young son.

Customer Reviews

I found the book to be well written and very interesting.
JASH Just A Section Hiker
Bringing the IDF a bit more into focus with clarity and without Romance Adam is a great story teller.
Mogulmommy
Harmon became a paratrooper, ...one of the best combat jobs in the Isreali Army.
ThorBjorn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Yaron on June 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a veteran of the IDF, I had been looking forward to Adam Harmon's "Lonely Soldier" for a few months. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Even though my service took place 12 years before Adam's, most of the training methods were exactly as I recalled them. The first few hours and days at the Bakum (induction center), the sudden immersion into military life, the all-important interview about where you'd like to serve and the rigors of Tironut (boot camp).
Adam, who grew up in the United States, visited Israel in 1984 after his sophomore year in high school. He very quickly realized that he loved the country and wanted to live there, knowing that he would have to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. After earning his bachelor's degree, he left his family behind and immigrated to Israel, joining the IDF during the Intifada. The 22-year-old volunteered to join the Tsanchanim (paratroopers) and, more importantly, an elite unit within the paratroopers. Even when things didn't always go his way and despite speaking very little Hebrew, Adam was intent on proving himself worthy of the coveted red beret and underwent the long and grueling training to become a full-fledged Tsanchan.
Adam vividly describes the classic IDF training doctrines and the less-than-formal interaction between commanders and soldiers, even in basic training. There is an emphasis on respect for the person, not the rank, and an egalitarian philosophy permeates the military service. Adam's first few months in the army were particularly challenging not only because of the rigorous drills and forced marches, but because he was still learning the language.
During his training, Adam took part in patrols in the West Bank during the Intifada and experienced Iraq's Scud missile attacks on Israel in 1991.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Lang on August 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
While Adam Harom may not write with the prose of Joyce or Steinbeck, his book The Lonely Soldier captivates you with its emotion. Harmon writes in a very simple, easy to read style, which makes it an enjoyable sunday afternoon read.

In his narrative Adam takes the reader through the details of his service in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), which I found extremely fascinating. We come to understand Adam's calling back to Israel, and in turn perhaps come to understand Israel in a different light.

In short, if you are looking for a novel that makes litterary allusions to death, or the meaning of life, this book may not be the place to look.

But, in light of recent events in the Middle East, and the ongoing conflict in the Region, I could not recomend more strongly to read this book. Harmon provides a great, captivating, first-hand perspective on the region and into the life of an American who did something unique.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. Burke on July 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This could not be more timely for what is happening around the world. It is interesting to hear what it is like for an Israeli soldier and what him/her goes through. I can't imagine what it must be like to train with such an elite army and not always be able to understand what was being said. The book makes you feel like the writer is right in front of you telling his story. I can't wait to read more by the Adam Harmon.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By JASH Just A Section Hiker on July 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Lonely Soldier: The Memoir of an American in the Israeli Army
I have served in the United States Marine Corp and traveled to Israel. It was with interest that I read this book hoping to gain some insight into the IDF and life in Israel. I found the book to be well written and very interesting. I am not a speed reader but I read Lonely Soldier in less than a week. My wife kept trying to pry it out of my hands but it was difficult to put down.

The author's details regarding training and his personal feelings are fascinating. The discipline of the author and his desire to serve well are an inspiration to anyone traveling through life and seeking a personal mission.

Best of fortune to all and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stratiotes Doxha Theon VINE VOICE on January 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Marechal De Saxe wrote, "The reputation of an organization becomes personal just as soon as it is an honor to belong to it." He was referring to that illusive entity we refer to as esprit de corps. In this memoir we gain an insight into such a noted organization and how men and women are molded to be honored members. It is not an uncommon story type but seeing inside the Israeli defense forces gives it a new exotic twist.

It is not an objective study of middle eastern politics. Soldiers do not have the luxury of political objectivity. The corps is their primary loyalty, acceptance as a fellow soldier by the man or woman at their side their main concern.

This is pure enjoyment treading for those of us who enjoy the comradere and esprit de corps band of brothers story. To enjoy it best, try to ignore the political slant and just enjoy the story for its face value.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Adam Harmon, a U.S. citizen, chose early in his life to serve in the Israeli army because he felt a strong bond to Israel due to his Jew heritage. Although he didn't have any previous military experience in the US, he travelled to Israel in 1989 determined to become a paratrooper in some elite unit. Although he didn't manage to reach the most coveted special forces, he served in the paratroopers during an era of great security crises in Israel, when the Gulf War was in full swing and the Palestininas were waging a guerrilla war against the occupying forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Harmon didn't participate in any pitched battle against an Arab army but he describes in great detail his extremely demanding paratrooper training, the attitude and ethos of the IDF, the commanding principles, the tactics and the camaraderie of the brothers in arms. The book contains many details about night raids in the West Bank to capture prominent Intifada leaders or suicide bombers and the many challenges that such missions entailed. Harmon completed his obligatory service in 1992 but returned many times to Israel as a reservist whenever his unit was called up for exercises. Although he constantly had difficulties with the language, he remained dedicated to Israel's security throughout the years and didn't regret even once the time and the sweat he sacrificed for his adopted country. The book is a wonderful start for anyone wishing to learn more about the famous "lone soldiers" of Israel, even though the author was employed only in counterinsurgency operations after all.
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