This is one of the more unusual books to have been published recently in Israel. It's also a book that's hard to categorize. It's not a standard novel, not really a book of memoirs, not actually a work of history - but it is a book that offers a different, surprising take on Israel's first years. A loving and painful take, to resort to a cliche.
Corinna Hasofferett, embarked on this literary journey in the wake of two friends who were with her in a youth movement and were killed in Israel's cross-border reprisal raids. For years she collected testimonies of people who knew them, taping and editing.
She interweaves the testimonies, almost without intervention on her part. The result is a narrative flow that revives the period without any prettification or mythologizing.
She jokingly describes the book, "B'Eretz Lo Yadati" ("Unknown Territory," in English), as a Fighters Talk - referring to the famous book ("Siah Lohamim") in which soldiers described their experiences in the 1967 Six-Day War - but with no censorship.
There are a few interesting revelations in the book, apart from the story of Yehuda Kan Dror. For example, confessions about the killing of captives, or a surprising confession from a member of Unit 101 - the precursor of the Paratroops, Unit 101 was established by Ariel Sharon in the early 1950s - that the unit did not have any fatalities because it operated almost exclusively against civilian targets.
But concentrating on these aspects of the book could be misleading. It offers a far broader picture of a society that was still licking its wounds from the War of Independence, the picture of a country in which the signs of the previous Palestinian inhabitants were still visible, a picture of people whose memory of the Holocaust is not something they learned in school.
This is Corinna's sixth book, and she has published it herself - both for economic reasons and also to avoid having an outside eye that might cut sensitive passages. So it's not easy to find the book in bookstores. But it's worth making the effort.
Corinna's books, in Hebrew, are available for purchase directly from her Hebrew blog: http://www.notes.co.il/corinna/1823.asp