I’ve just finished the most compelling and amazing book I’ve read in my life, so far. I have a huge fascination for warfare and the techniques employed by the commanders under the taxing and intense stress. The attacks and counter-attacks, the weapons used and the effect they have is very interesting to read. “O Jerusalem!” has catered to all of my imagination and interests. The bloodshed and warfare in the most Divine and Promised Land cast a spell on my mind! I was in a kind of reverie as I turned page after page and each chapter had a lasting impact on my mind and the way I perceived things so far. The author gathered information so assiduously and meticulously about every tiny detail that happened in Palestine in May of 1948 after the British leave it after 30 years of rule. As soon as the mandate expires, the events take a huge turn for the worse, wherein the Arabs and the Jews fight each other with a ferocity never seen before.
The massacre of Arabs at Deir Yassin, the Arab ambushes and blockades to avoid the Jewish convoys to pass through the treacherous hills to Jerusalem, the state of siege of Jerusalemite Jews, the scarcity of even the most basic of essentials, the ferocity with which the Haganah fights for every inch of land with the last vestige of its strength, the Arab legion’s counter-attack and the turning of tide in Arabs’ favor, the pitiable, sympathetic condition of Jerusalem and finally the cease-fire between Arabs and Jews.
Until the very end, I was mentally transported to the war-ravaged nation of Palestine in 1948. After reading the book, I now have a new sense of respect for the Jews. For all the struggles they have been through, in the last two thousand years, their faith never once faltered. I almost whooped with joy when the Jewish convoy which has been delayed for weeks due to Arab blockades, on the gorges of Bab-el-wad, reached Jerusalem. I could vividly imagine the Jews running into streets, gleefully looking at all the flour, bread, fruits and essential commodities which became a rarity to them after almost 3 weeks of starvation. At one point during the war, a young Jewish girl of 14 has her hand severed from the wrist due to an Arab mortar shell. Yet, she continues to accomplish her mission- to deliver a message from one Haganah post to the other. To all the Jews who gave their lives and bloodied the soil of the Promised Land, they, at last, got their independence of two thousand years of repression.
Hats Off, to Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre for such a gripping, impartial and wonderful narrative!!!