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Capsule Review

The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship

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The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship

The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship
By A. Jay Cristol
Brassey's, 2002, 294 pp. $27.50 Purchase

This is the definitive book on the Israeli attack during the Six-Day War on an American spy ship, a horrible accident that killed 34 Americans and left many more wounded. For many years, the incident has been the subject of writings that range from the doggedly investigative to the frankly antisemitic. This meticulous work belongs to the former category, a superb account by a federal judge (with a doctorate to boot) who has served for many years as a U.S. naval aviator and a member of the Navy's Judge Advocate General Corps. Documents, pictures, transcripts, and interviews all come under the microscope. The evidence, the author argues, overwhelmingly suggests that the incident was a wretched mistake brought about by a complex series of Israeli and American errors, not by any deliberate plan. To be sure, the fundamental implausibility of an Israeli decision to attack an American ship always made the contrary argument suspect. And there will be those who will cling to a fantasy of Israeli premeditation and malevolence, regardless of the evidence. But for those readers of a rational turn of mind, this book ends the debate.

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