War in the Middle East: A Reporter’s Story, Black September and the Yom Kippur War
"Great energy … creates a solid introduction to complicated situations that in lesser hands can overwhelm young readers."
"Compelling … accessible even to adolescents with limited knowledge of the conflicts."
"The best volume yet for readers wanting to learn about this region that affects the whole world."
"Lively and engaging. This is a good read …"
–New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
The war began at 5:00 a.m. A loud boom that sounded like someone had set off a cherry bomb inside my hotel room jolted me awake. It was followed by another, and then a succession of sharp cracks split the air like the first day of hunting season. I leaped out of bed and lurched to the sliding-glass door that opened onto a small balcony. The gunfire sounded very close. I crouched down on the floor and crawled over to one side of the door. I pulled back the curtain and peeked out.
Dawn was just breaking, and the night sky was softening into lighter shades of blue. Tracers streaked through the air, their red and white trails lighting up the heavens like Roman candles somewhere out in the darkness, I heard a rooster crow a new day.
Within a matter of minutes, the gunfire spread all around the city. The spitting rat-a-tat of automatic weapons barked form somewhere off to the left, and from the back of the hotel the heavy thud of artillery fire crashed into my consciousness.
In between the mortar rounds and spurts of machine-gun fire, I heard a grinding whirr from what sounded like heavy machinery. The noise kept getting louder, and a moment later a line of armored vehicles came into view, moving slowly up the hill in front of the hotel. It was clear by their very presence that the Jordanian army was on the attack. The P.F.L.P. might have a lot of guns, but it didn’t have any tanks.
I knew I had to get some kind of story out quickly. I backed away from the balcony door and picked up the telephone. The line was dead. My next thought was of that one telex machine. I tried to roll a sheet of paper into my portable Smith-Corona typewriter on the desk while pulling on my shirt and trousers at the same time. That was hard enough, but a bigger problem was that I didn’t have any idea what was going on.
I quickly wrote a couple of paragraphs describing what I had seen from my hotel window. “Heavy fighting broke out at dawn today in Amman …” I began. The editors in New York would add the background. I pulled the paper from my typewriter, wrote the word “BULLETIN” on top with a pencil, and ran toward the stairs to the hotel lobby. Somewhere along the corridor, I head a baby crying.