Synopses & Reviews
A vivid dispatch from the front lines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
When American-born Haim Watzman immigrated to Israel, he was drafted into the army and, after eighteen months of compulsory service, assigned to Company C, the reserve infantry unit that would define the next twenty years of his life. From 1984 until 2002, for at least a month a year, Watzman, who had never aspired to military adventure, was a soldier.
Watzman was a soldier as he adjusted to a new country, married, raised his children, and pursued a career as a writer and translator. At times he defended his adopted country's borders; at other times he patrolled beyond them, or in that gray area, the occupied territories. A religiously observant Jew who opposed Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he served in uniform in conflicts that he demonstrated against in civilian clothes. Throughout, he developed a deep and abiding bond with the diverse men of Company C--a fellowship that cemented his commitment to reserve service even as he questioned the occupation he was enforcing.
In this engrossing account of the first Intifada, the period of the Oslo Accords, and Israel's reoccupation of the West Bank as lived by citizen-soldiers in the field, Watzman examines our obligations to country, friends, family, and God-and our duty to protect our institutions even as we fight to reform them.
"Watzman, a writer and translator, served in the reserve infantry of the Israeli army, one month a year, from 1984 to 2002. On one level this thoughtful and absorbing book is a frank (and often funny) barracks-room memoir, capturing the tedium, terror and grinding discomfort of military life, with a sharp eye (and gifted memory) for details of character and place. The periodic nature of Watzman's service gives the book a serial viewpoint into the tumultuous events of the years from before the rise of the first intifada to the re-occupation of the West Bank, always from a unique front-line perspective. We also come to know the other men in Watzman's unit, representative of Israeli society only in their disparateness. As an observant Jew and patriot who is also vocally opposed to the West Bank and Gaza settlements, Watzman himself defies easy stereotyping, and his depiction of the motivations and opinions of his comrades and countrymen, especially as they shift over time, is likewise unclichd, affectionate but critical. Agent, Simon Lipskar at Writers House. (June 8)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This compelling account of one soldier in Israel's army of occupation, offers beautifully written insights into the Israel experience. Haim Watzman's fears, doubts and moral dilemmas, but above all his passionate love for the country of his choice, place Company C
among the most important books on Israel today." --Tom Segev, author of Elvis in Jerusalem
and One Palestine, Complete
When American-born Watzman immigrated to Israel, he was drafted into the army and, after 18 months of compulsory service, assigned to Company C, the reserve infantry unit that would define the next 20 years of his life.
About the Author
is a translator and journalist who lives in Jerusalem with his wife and four children. This is his first book.