"When generals...visit, they always ask me what my secret is. My secret is the instructors...Learn from your instructors. They will train you into excellent medics."

This memoir, hinting at exposé, was first written between 1977 and 1980 by the twenty-something author shortly after his honorable discharge from active duty. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was officially established in 1948 as a conscripted army. Terris, who attended Israeli schools during his teens, was subject to this conscription. Dual American-Israeli citizenship permitted him to refuse, but he joined out of gratitude to the army which defended Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

The selection method used at his processing base erroneously placed the author with the paratroopers. He was determined to succeed until constant marches hospitalized him with pneumonia and a toe infection. Offered the opportunity to select a different course, he chose to become a medic. Every combat unit had to have a medic who graduated from an 18-month course. Instructors, some women, were chosen from previous medic course students and promoted to the rank of corporal or sergeant. At the Military School of Medicine, Terris was assigned to sweeping base roads with three soldiers with whom he bonded while waiting to take that course.

One underlying theme of this book is military bonding―the ultimate team building exercise―and the way of life of recruits to longtime soldiers. The book demonstrates that impossible tasks are doable through joint effort and community. However, every community has its own unique subculture. In this one, insults were flung at pea-brained individuals or those who asked "duffle-bag" questions. Saying "please" or "thank you" was not allowed since all were brothers meant to help one another. Respected instructors were called alligators, and leadership was modeled by Israeli commanders, whose cry before practice runs or into battle was “Follow me.”

The raucous adventures of the author and his three friends provide entertainment for this 430-page book. Comic relief is definitely needed since the detailed medical procedures and army training descriptions resemble reality TV. Terris orients his reader with a treasure trove of facts that were part of service. For example, they ate bread with chocolate spread, kibbutz-grown cucumber slices dipped in hummus (before it became popular in America), and drank a combined “coffeetea.” Food served in the cafeteria was mostly repurposed from expired emergency food rations. Snack bars were wolfed down for energy any time of day. After food, the top interest was sex. In those days an Israeli soldier’s prowess was measured by his perceived sexuality. While women served 24 months mostly as officers or instructors, sexual harassment charges were a thing of the future.

The author uses circles to unify the book. He recalls his first meal eating kibbutz-grown cucumbers with mud left on the skins; this same food appears in the ending pages. Another circle involves the author as a new soldier confessing to something not done to save fellow recruits from punishment; in the last chapter, a young recruit similarly confesses.

Guidance via circumstance is revealed at specific turning points. For instance, if the author had had another thirty cents for a coin-operated phone call, he would never have enlisted in the IDF. Amazingly, his paratroop sergeant was the brother of a high school friend. That support, along with simultaneous bouts of pneumonia and an infected large toe, pointed the young soldier toward his life-long career in medicine. Terris is now a trained surgeon working in Washington, DC.

Having written the first draft immediately after discharge validates the author’s explicit details which would have been difficult to recall decades after events. Over the intervening period, Terris made some edits. Sanitizing and camouflaging to protect IDF information and the privacy of individuals was dutifully performed.

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