Israel's experience in Lebanon-invasion, frustration, retrenchment and collapse-is recounted with attention to detail and a command of the material unmatched in any other book. Military operations are but a small part of the story, which is focused on national security policy in its broadest sense, on how and by whom vital decisions were or were not made, and on all the factors, domestic and international, which influenced these decisions. But the book has a still broader scope. Because "Sharon's war" raised such doubts and protests in Israeli society and in the army, going to the very nature of the state, the author is impelled to confront the question of whether this adventure was an aberration or in line with vital needs and established policy, and thus to explore the rationale and consistency of Israel's foreign and defense policies since before independence. The real contribution of the book is not so much in the author's specific conclusions as in the way in which his knowledge and his analysis illuminate the entire subject.