Rabinovich has greatly advanced the understanding of the Yom Kippur war. An increasing number of memoirs by the participants and the release of Israeli documents enable the author to piece together a much clearer picture of what happened. This book is written in a chronological, narrative style that is riveting, portraying the ferocity of the conflict, using the words and writings of Israelis from the private to the prime minister. This is accomplished in a seamless fashion, moving from the Golan front to the Sinai, from the soldier on the ground to the high command.
Rabinovich illuminates the glaring failures of some of the Israeli commanders, blinded by personal animosities and a deprecating view of the Arabs, whose courage and abilities in the war the author notes. He makes clear that the courage and initiative of Israeli junior officers and enlisted men turned the tide, despite, rather than because of, their higher command leadership.
He examines the near-fatal intelligence assessments by the Israelis with their ingrained belief that the Egyptians were not ready to attack. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, Israeli intelligence maintained this assessment until the last day, allowing the Israelis to be surprised and nearly overwhelmed.
Rabinovich focuses on the human drama of the war but does not provide more than occasional glimpses of the Arab side. This is a function of the fact that there are few credible Arab sources available, particularly on the Syrian side. Although not intended as an academic strategic study of the war, much can be learned from The Yom Kippur War by specialists as well as the general reader.