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The Watchman Fell Asleep
The Surprise of Yom Kippur and Its Sources
The Watchman Fell Asleep
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Uri Bar-Joseph - Author
SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Price: $95.00 
Hardcover - 326 pages
Release Date: August 2005
ISBN10: 0-7914-6481-4
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6481-6

Price: $33.95 
Paperback - 326 pages
Release Date: August 2005
ISBN10: 0-7914-6482-2
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6482-3

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Examines how Israel was caught by surprise in the opening stages of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Based on many formerly undisclosed intelligence and military documents, the secret protocols of discussions on the eve of the war, and interviews with relevant figures, The Watchman Fell Asleep is a compelling account of Israel’s intelligence failure before the 1973 Arab attack known as the Yom Kippur War. The Hebrew version of this book was awarded the Tshetshik Prize for Strategic Studies on Israel’s Security in 2001, and the Israeli Political Science Association’s Best Book Award in 2002. Available here in English for the first time, Uri Bar-Joseph has crafted an authoritative explanation of the most traumatic event in Israel’s stormy history and one of the biggest strategic military surprises of the twentieth century.

“Uri Bar-Joseph has written an extraordinarily detailed yet efficient account of what went wrong inside the Israeli government. This is no small accomplishment … Bar-Joseph’s analysis is not just some arcane story written for intelligence specialists and history buffs. It is an important tale of a deterrence failure and the inability of policymakers to recognize, despite overwhelming evidence, that their deterrence policy was failing.” — The Journal of Strategic Studies

“The value of Bar-Joseph’s hour-by-hour account is to see how the ‘conception’ locked intelligence officers, military planners, and policymakers into an intellectual straitjacket, functioning as a barrier to information sharing and effective analysis until it crumbled at the last minute.” — The Journal of Military History

“This is a stimulating book that attempts the most detailed analysis yet undertaken of the disastrous failure on Israel’s part to prepare for the 1973 war.” — International Journal of Middle East Studies

“Bar-Joseph’s volume … is sure to become the standard account of Israel’s intelligence fiasco on the eve of the Yom Kippur War. It contains much new and interesting information for those who seek a better understanding of Israeli decision making in the run-up to the war.” — Israel Affairs

“Bar-Joseph provides a remarkable and depressing hour-by-hour account of the intelligence failings as they unfolded during the key days of October 1 to October 6.” — Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies

"This landmark study is certain to become the classic analysis of the October War. It ranks with Roberta Wohlstetter’s famous study of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Bar-Joseph’s account draws on many important new sources, which he weaves into a dramatic account of the intelligence failure." — Alexander L. George, Stanford University

"Despite the plethora of both academic and journalistic works about the sources of surprise in October 1973, this book is by far the most impressive—providing a broad complex of hitherto unpublished documents that help portray a novel picture of both the dynamics and the operational code of Israel’s military intelligence during the weeks and months preceding the war, and of the cognitive maps of its leadership. The combination of the unusually rich empirical data and the very clear, coherent, and concise theoretical framework makes this book highly readable." — Abraham Ben-Zvi, author of Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Arms Sales to Israel: In the Shadow of the Hawk

"Professor Bar-Joseph’s account of the October War in 1973 is the most authoritative and fascinating account of the war we are likely to ever have. It details the Egyptian success of surprise attack as well as the Israeli failure with strategic intelligence and early warning. Sadat’s ability to fool two major intelligence organizations—Israel’s Military Intelligence (AMAN) and the CIA—is a warning to American policymakers hoping to prevent another 9/11 attack. Bar-Joseph makes a case for systemic reform of the intelligence community that U.S. officials must heed in a timely fashion." — Melvin A. Goodman, CIA Senior Analyst, 1966–1990 and Professor of International Security, National War College, 1986–2004

"A fascinating … detailed and shuddering description of the military arrogance that overtook the Israeli leadership following the amazing victory of 1967—an arrogance that led to intelligence blindness and to a strategic surprise in 1973." — MK Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Chairman of the Knesset’s (Israeli Parliament) Security and Foreign Affairs Committee

"The 1973 surprise was traumatic for Israelis and instructive for strategists everywhere, so it has spawned a large literature. Uri Bar-Joseph's book and stands out as the latest and most definitive of these works." — Richard K. Betts, Director, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University

…a fascinating … study … of … the event that is considered as the most traumatic in Israel’s history." — Yedioth Ahronot, in praise of the Hebrew edition

"Uri Bar-Joseph’s study is the most important study … published so far on the War of Yom Kippur." — Haaretz, in praise of the Hebrew edition

"The Watchman Fell Asleep … presents a chilling picture of a nation’s fate almost gambled away by a handful of brilliant men unable to conceive that they might be wrong." — The Jerusalem Post Magazine, in praise of the Hebrew edition

Uri Bar-Joseph is Professor of International Relations at Haifa University. He is the author of Intelligence Intervention in the Politics of Democratic States: The United States, Israel, and Britain and The Best of Enemies: Israel and Transjordan in the War of 1948.

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Table of Contents


Part I. The Egyptian War Decision and Its Implementation

1. The War Decision

2. Planning the Next War: Past Experience and the Main Problems

Problem I: The Crossing of the Canal
Problem II: Egyptian Air Inferiority
Problem III: Inferiority in Armored Fighting

3. The Egyptian Deception Plan

i. The Role of Deception in Egyptian War Planning
ii. Passive Deception
iii. Active Deception
iv. Assessment of the Egyptian Deception

4. The Egyptian-Syrian War Coordination

Part II. Israel Prepares for War

5. The Balance of Forces—the Israeli View

6. The Intelligence Conception and Its Sources

i. The Conception
ii. The Empirical Evidence

7. The Strategic Warning and Its Role in Israel’s War Plans

8. The Next War Scenarios

9. The War Estimate: October 1972–August 1973

i. October 1972–April 1973
ii. April–May 1973
iii. June–August 1973

Part III. The Dynamics of an Intelligence Fiasco

10. August–September 1973

11. Monday, October 1, 1973

12. Tuesday, October 2, 1973

13. Wednesday, October 3, 1973

14. Thursday, October 4, 1973

15. Friday, October 5, 1973

16. Saturday, October 6, 1973, 0400 –1400

17. Surprise

i. The Cabinet
ii. The Canal Front
iii. The Golan Front
iv. The Air Force

18. The Cost of Being Caught Unprepared

i. The Material Losses
ii. The Psychological Impact of Surprise

19. The Causes of the Intelligence Failure

i. Obstacles Unique to the Warning-Response Process
ii. Bureaucratic Obstacles
iii. Groupthinking
iv. Psychological Obstacles at the Individual Level
v. The Human Factor


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