Israel’s Next War
Martin Archer’s Israel’s Next War was… strange. I’ve read my share of “boom boom goes the tank” war “thrillers” where there are what feels like five million characters (very few of whom are interesting) and five billion weapon descriptions (very few of which are relevant). Thus I was bracing for the book to be like that, and I was not wrong. But it goes a lot deeper than those surface issues.
First, there’s the action itself between Israel and an alliance of its traditional enemies, where I went “No. No. This isn’t how it would go” on many occasions. I guess I just can’t help myself, being the avid wargamer and historian that I’ve been. Something unrealistic, flawed, or not the most well researched isn’t a deal-breaker (far from it). But given the quality of the rest of the book, it went from eyebrow-raising to head-shaking. Some of it is good, if a little rote. But more of it isn’t, and it all feels like Archer’s sources were:
- A half-remembered History Channel piece on the Yom Kippur War.
- Various “Modern Military Equipment” coffee table books.
- Command And Conquer Generals.
The technology is all over the place, and the equipment is neither consistent nor particularly accurate. Combined with a dull non-war plot, this would feel like a ramshackle technothriller, if not for the final icing on the cake. That would be the writing style.
Archer writes the book in first person, constantly shuffling back and forth between first-person viewpoints with a label preceding their section. The nadir of this is a character named only “The Iraqi Lieutenant Colonel”, but the others aren’t much better. The prose alternates between the “BBGTT” classic of “Infodumps-R-Us” and something that’s surprisingly (and jarringly) “bouncy”, for lack of a better word. It clashes, to put it mildly.
For all those flaws, it’s not the absolute worst, either in plausibility or or in drama. But the “quirks” noted above push Israel’s Next War from being potentially bad and dull to bad and slightly weird. At least I had fun making this review.