Review : “Israel’s Lightning Strike: The Raid on Entebbe” from Osprey Publishing

Osprey Publishing, noted publisher of historical reference books, occasionally forwards new titles to that are of interest to gamers. Raid: Israel's Lighting Strike The latest shipment included “Israel’s Lightning Strike: The Raid on Entebbe,” from Osprey’s new “Raid” series, “Saracen Strongholds from 1100-1500” and “Empires of the Dragon: The Far East at War.” The first two titles are historical reference, while the last is a supplement for the Osprey “Fields of Glory” miniature game. Look for discussions of these other titles in the very near future. Today’s post focuses on the “Raid on Entebbe.”

Unlike previous Osprey titles, the “Raid” series focuses on a specific military action, as opposed to a historical period, culture or region. There is some historical background at the beginning, but after that it is all low-level planning and logistics. Before going further, please forget the Charles Bronson movie (though this book does make a point of mentioning it and ol’ Chuck Bronson does make an appearance). While accurate in the broad points, the film leaves out much of the political maneuvering, planning and skullduggery that went on during the raid.

The story is well-known, but worth quickly summarizing for the unfamiliar. In 1976, German and Palestinian terrorists hijacked an Air France jumbo jet and took it to Uganda. Most of the hostages, save Israeli citizens were released. Israeli special forces launched a raid using large transport planes and a repainted Mercedes to successfully kill the terrorists and save all but a handful of the hostages.

What struck me most in this book was the context provided surrounding the raid. There is a helpful breakdown of terrorist organizations, previous Israeli anti-terrorist efforts and some of the intelligence work that went into the raid. All of this provided useful context for both the raid and the political ramifications of invading a country run by Idi Amin.

Author Simon Dunstan’s writing style is quite readable, especially once the raid starts. I am not saying he is Tom Clancy, but the raid section is smartly written, detailed and fast-paced. “History book” and “exciting” are not mutually exclusive terms.

Though the book is very serious in tone, I chuckled a bit at the image of a commando throwing a pretty, lingerie-clad French stewardess over a shoulder and carrying her to safety or Air France’s “reward” for the flight crew that refused to abandon their passengers.

There are plenty of Osprey’s usual high-quality images, art and cartography. This book has a more modern feel and the art is a combination of the hand drawn and digitally rendered. I especially enjoyed the airport graphics with a detailed timeline and legend of critical locations.

This is my first exposure to the “Raid” series and I am impressed. I also think that this book (and probably the others in this series) offer great “role-playing gamer-friendly” content. Since the Raid series focuses on relatively small units completing specific missions, it lends itself to role-playing game encounter design and inspiration.

Trask, The Last Tyromancer

Full Disclosure: Publisher provided a free copy for this review.



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.