Customer Reviews: Lonely Soldier: The Memoir of an American in the Israeli Army
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on June 28, 2006
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. He emerged as a dependable, enthusiastic paratrooper, always willing to volunteer for dangerous missions and always welcoming the challenges of hard training. One of the most important rites of passage for an Israeli paratrooper is the 90-kilometer forced march from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, the "Massah koomtah" (march for beret), at the end of which the feldgling paratroopers are given the red berets. Adam's description of this ordeal is vivid and inspiring.
My recommendation for this book comes with a caveat: I could identify with much of what Adam writes about because I underwent similar training. The book struck a responsive chord, basically. For those without this background, the book may not meet the same expectations. Adam does not purport to have engaged in any vital military campaigns or left an indelible mark on the IDF. He was a "cog" in the military machine and his account is that of a soldier who took orders and executed them well -- nothing more, nothing less. The book is a grunt's-eye- view account of an idealistic immigrant.
NOTE: Nitpicking, perhaps, but for the sake of accuracy, I want to point out that the book contains two misspellings that are repeated too many times to be ignored. The special forces unit Duvdevan (which literally means "cherry") is spelled Duvedan. And Sayeret (recon unit) is spelled Sayerit.
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on August 3, 2006
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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on July 28, 2006
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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on March 27, 2015
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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on July 15, 2007
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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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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on November 22, 2013
I really loved this story. Adam takes on a ride hide story from American kid to Lone Solider is at once admirable and heartfelt.
He brings humor , humanity and so much passion that you can feel the pain of the training as well as the tensions of the missions.
Bringing the IDF a bit more into focus with clarity and without Romance Adam is a great story teller.
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on January 9, 2009
Adam Harmon's "Lonely Soldier" is an insightful work and a must-read for anybody wanting to learn about the phenomenon of hundreds (if not thousands) of American-born men and women who serve in the Israeli Army. Harmon's memoir provides readers with an exploration of why he enlisted and what his experience was like as an American in the IDF. Unlike other books on this topic, Harmon keeps his narrative on an even keel throughout and doesn't get carried away with discussing his own personal accomplishments. From conversations I've had with many other American veterans of the IDF I can say that Harmon's experiences, as described in the book, were both common (i.e., language & cultural barriers) and extraordinary (i.e., serving in several elite units). I cannot recommend strongly enough that anyone interesting in learning more about the IDF or American soldiers who serve in Israel should read this book.
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on August 14, 2006
This is a timely story of the connections felt by Americans with Israel. I find it interesting that the book came out just as the tensions between the Hezbollah and Israel exploded in Lebanon. Mr. Harmon tells the story truthfully, and the reader is well aware that this is an autobiography. It's as if history is repeating itself over and over, even though many years have passed since Mr. Harmon first began serving in the ISF. However, the actual writing of the book becomes tedious, and after the first half of the text, I had to force myself to continue reading.
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on May 26, 2008
A beautiful story. Adam is a true hero. A must read for those of us who love Israel.
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