Aaron Cohen’s memoir tells how he came to immigrate to Israel from Beverly Hills as a teenager and complete the grueling training required to join one of Israel’s elite army commando units. Cohen describes his privileged California childhood and his stint at a military academy in Canada, which he credits with transforming him from a lackluster student into a highly motivated and disciplined one. Cohen became fascinated by Israel after hearing stories about the Israel Defense Force from the headmaster, and decided he wanted to make a substantial contribution to Israel’s well being by joining an elite army unit.
The book focuses on the training Cohen received in order to join the IDF’s Sayeret Duvdevan, which operates mainly in undercover roles in Palestinian-controlled areas. Cohen also describes a couple of actual undercover operations in which he participated, including one in which his unit is tasked with kidnapping a Hamas financier from a wedding in the West Bank.
A word of warning: do not rely on this book for the history, as there are errors. For example, the author describes Shimon Peres as a “legendary commander” of the IDF, and tells how Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In fact Shimon Peres never served in the IDF, and Israel captured the Golan Heights in the Six Day War in 1967.
But as an inside peek into the life of an Israeli commando, the book does not disappoint.