Summer Rain

Annette Levy Willard
Psychology News Press, paperback, £9.99

Reviewed by Alex Hindley

It seems wrong to say that this book entertained me, but Annette Levy Willard is, after all, a journalist, and used to the demands of a sheltered and possibly indifferent readership. Consequently her diary of the '33 days war' waged in Lebanon and Israel during the summer of 2006 is a story told with ironic humour as well as compassion and insight. Given the depth of the human tragedy described, this may seem inappropriate but the author was present throughout and witnessed first hand that ego, frivolity and humour can co-exist with heartache and bloodshed. Perhaps it's what we call the human condition.

To stay on point, this book catalogues the monumental mishandling of the terrorist threat of Hezbollah by the Israeli government. A war was waged so that Israel's civilian government could prove they were military savvy, so that the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah could prove that Israel is not invincible and, right back at the beginning, so that one captured soldier could return home. Meanwhile the Lebanese people landed the unfortunate role of host-cum-human shield in this power play, incurring by far the highest death toll of the war despite not having officially fought in it.

Levy Willard's short-and-sweet style, along with her tactical and political insights, drag a compellingly coherent story out of the quagmire that is Middle Eastern politics and the United Nations’ well-meaning interventions. Snatches of her interviews with everyone and anyone involved, including diplomats, soldiers, military spokespeople, restaurant owners and her own 103 year old uncle (who was too old to leave Haifa when the missiles began to hit) mean that this story is told from nearly all sides. Had the author been offered the chance to infiltrate Hezbollah herself I doubt she would have passed it up. Her bravery and commitment to truth is striking and often inspiring.

In the end no one is really sure who 'won' this war, if anyone did. Those seeking to make sense of it would do well to start here.

Printer friendly page

Comments are closed for this review