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Beaufort is a military outpost in southern Lebanon occupied by
the Israeli army. Taken by accident in an Israeli raid in 1980,
this desolate piece of high ground could be described as the first
target among military outposts for its long and violent

Beaufort is held by a small unit that fervently believes that the
Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon saves lives --- that without
their work, Hezbollah would easily infiltrate Israel and begin the
mass murder of the Israelis along the border, whom they view as an
occupying force. Their job is made more difficult by the arbitrary
nature of Hezbollah’s attacks. Sometimes they fire missiles,
sometimes they have a sharpshooter, sometimes the local populace
collaborates, and sometimes nothing happens for weeks, even months
on end.

These men live under constant, excruciating pressure, and their
story is told by their team commander, 21-year-old Liraz
“Erez” Liberti, a career soldier if only because
assimilating into a non-Beaufort world becomes too difficult after
he has spent so much time there.

Erez’s job is to ensure that his men do exactly what
they’re told, no matter how absurd or contradictory their
orders are. He enforces discipline through arduous physical
training, fear and sleep deprivation, but his men love him, maybe
because he knows them so well and is as big a troublemaker as any
of them. Erez does love his men, even when he can’t stop
swearing at them. He loves them more than anyone he knows on the
outside, including his brother, an Israeli army veteran, and his
girlfriend Lilah, to whom he writes letters he will never

The whole purpose of military life is to instill sameness, to
destroy individual identity for the group to work together, which
makes the ease with which Ron Leshem renders his characters very
impressive. You know who has the dirtiest mouth, who comes from
money, who no longer celebrates Jewish rituals and whose unrequited
love for a schoolgirl drags on for a year. You see them withstand
pressure, and you see them crack. For if daily life at Beaufort is
nearly impossible, Israel’s seemingly arbitrary decision to
close it down takes the pressure to a whole new level.

What do you do when you can’t find your friend’s head?
The author is not shy about providing details of horrific injuries,
how missiles come out of nowhere at random and there is no possible
escape. As Israel prepares to abandon Beaufort, the forces of
Hezbollah do everything they can to ensure that Beaufort’s
closure will be remembered as a bloody retreat. Meanwhile, Erez
asks himself what the point of Beaufort was in the first place and
thinks of everyone who would still be alive if Israel had come to
this decision a year earlier.

Surprisingly, Ron Leshem himself did not serve in the Israeli army.
A journalist and television producer, he is appropriately modest
about his inexperience compared to the men who inspired his novel,
but it feels very, very real. This is a classic war story, with all
the traditional elements of heroism, danger and black humor, but
the reader never loses sight of the futility of the war itself.
BEAUFORT is wildly popular in Israel. This English translation of
the Hebrew original is available to Americans interested in reading
the book that inspired the Academy Award-nominated movie or who are
coming to this incredible story for the first time.

Reviewed by Colleen Quinn on January 13, 2011

by Ron Leshem

  • Publication Date: December 26, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • ISBN-10: 0553806823
  • ISBN-13: 9780553806823