From Reviews of THE FOURTH OF JULY WAR
The year is 1983, and America is faced with an ineffectual civilian government, a weak president and the threat of its oil supply line, OPEC, being cut off on the 4th of July. Unemployment is already 20 percent and inflation is 35 percent. "The question is: Would the United States resort to violence to ensure its economic survival?... "The strongest point of The Fourth of July War is the realistic demonstration of what a few determined men can do without bothering with red tape." --Mike Toal, South Bend Tribune
"The book is remarkably reflective of contemporary affairs." --Chicago Tribune
"Topol creates believable character with real problems and emotions; he constructs a tight, suspenseful plot that has us flipping pages as fast as we can find out what happens while we root 100% for a hero we don't altogether like." --Roger Dionne, The Los Angeles Times
"Topol's scenario for this fast-paced, gripping novel has the ring of inevitability...Should be a best seller." --Houston Chronicle
"On the basis of this situation rooted in an all too possible reality, Topol constructs a set of events which lead the reader to recognize that they also are all too possible and to utter a silent prayer that they won't happen here... "Topol knows of the Washington scene. His knowledge makes for spellbinding reading." --A. Fred Sochatoff, Pittsburgh Press
"It's a screamer of a novel...So real it makes you believe it could happen." --Warren Koon, Natchez Democrat
Beautiful, brilliant, sworn to a lifetime of vengeance, Leora Baruch hurls herself into acts of daring, enduring, prison and torture as a crack member of M-18--Israelis feared anti-terrorist force. From the capitals of Europe and America back to the sizzling Middle East, Leora uncovers a stunning plot to sabotage Israeli-Egyptian peace forever. And suddenly, she finds herself rushing to a shattering confrontation with the quarry who has long eluded her--the mater assassin known only as "the Sword."
A WOMAN OF VALOR November 15, 1979
The stylish author of The Fourth of July War (1978) now concocts a preposterous but engaging Israeli-Egyptian revenge tale, featuring a female super-spy who ages chapter by chapter, from a child of nine to a corpse of 40. Leora Baruch's father owns the Alexandria Trading Company in Alexandria, Egypt, and their Jewish forebears have had businesses in the city for over 2000 years. But Farouk and Nasser have decided to join the Arab struggle for Palestine and the Baruchs are disenfranchised, kicked out, and sent to Haifa. All this kills poor father Baruch but not before Leora is educated in London and masters three languages (she even plays the lad in a university production of Antony and Cleopatra). Leora vows revenge for daddy, joins the Israeli army, and becomes such a standout that the new "Shai" intelligence service recruits and trains her. Her first big job, five yeas long, is with the French embassy in Cairo. When the Egyptians jail her for two years, her bitterness deepens, and when she's released she joins M-18, and Israeli hit team for killing Arab terrorists anywhere on earth. Her adventures take her to Copenhagen, Paris, and other world capitals, where she kills many Arabs, saves hijacked planes, and pursues Cherev, the fantastic Arab assassin who kills her only true love, Dan Yaacobi, an (alas) married Shai members. So, as her bitterness deepens still more, she cuts like a demon through Washington, D.C. seeking a showdown with Cherev (it is mutually fatal). With a suffering, though, implausible yet vividly imagined leading lady--a dandy serving warm-blooded hokum.
December 3, 1979 Publishers Weekly
A Woman of Valor
The intriguing twist in Topol's thriller is that the tough, gutsy protagonist is a woman. Leora, who is as cool a killer as any man. The daughter of a prominent Jewish family which had lived in Egypt for more than 2000 years, Leora first learns hatred and bitterness when her family is expelled by Nasser in 1956. Recruited into Shai, the Israeli intelligence unit, Leora meets Dan Yaacobi, with whom she spends one passionate night. As events propel her into the elite M-18 corps, a secret antiterrorist cadre of professional killers, Leora is motivated by two obsessions: to kill Cherev, the top Arab agent, and to get Dan to leave his wife and marry her. When Cherev kills Dan as part of a complex conspiracy, Leora is single minded in her lust for revenge. Fast action and insights into the upper echelons of international espionage keep the reader engrossed as the scene shifts from Cairo to London, Jerusalem and Washington, where the deadly spy operation takes a terrible toll of human lives.
Abilene Reporter News (TX)
‘Woman'--Holds CIA Suspense
A Woman of Valor
This is a book which should but probably won't open the eyes of those Americans who could not wait to gut-shoot the Central Intelligence Agency a few years ago. Opponents of the U.S. intelligence forces of the period almost brought about the total emasculation of the CIA. The perfidy of these self-appointed guardians of the nation's morals is amply attested to by the Iranian and Afghanistan crises and desperate straits of our intelligence forces today. Topol's novel gives honest treatment to the realities of today's world and the frequent requirement to meet force with force and brutality with brutality. His heroine, l:ora Baruch, was born in Egypt into a Jewish family which traced its Egyptian roots back to the age of the Pharaohs. Intent on becoming an actress, she was schooled to that end in London. Instead she became a dispassionate Israeli agent and one of the most expert operatives in Israel's elite anti-terrorist organization, M-18. Leora's early dreams were shattered by the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1956 when her family, now impoverished, was forced to leave Egypt for Israel. Seeking revenge for the treatment of her father and other family members, Leora becomes a top Israeli intelligence agent. Her dedication to the cause only increases after she is captured and spends two years as an Egyptian prisoner surviving tortures at the hands of her Egyptian jailers. She escapes, aided by Israeli intelligence, to be-come the only woman member of M-18, and agency which has a simple solution to deter terror--kill the terrorists before they can take over a plane, other facility or kill innocent people. Leora becomes one of the best in the field. The author, whose first novel was the best-selling The Fourth of July War, deftly builds a story of suspense from the initial introductory pages to the inevitable confrontation between good and evil; between archfiend and heroine. Leora's pursuit of the Arab world's top professional assassin moves the action from Cairo to Israel to London to Geneva and finally to a showdown in Washing-ton. It is not revenge alone which drives Leora, but the desperate need to defeat a conspiracy designed to ruin Israeli-Egyptian friendly relations for all times. Topol's Leora shows the traits of history's greatest Jewish women--the Loyalty of Ruth, the resourcefulness of Deborah and the beauty and cunning of Judith. The author borrows from Proverbs to described his woman of valor: A woman of valor who can find? For her price is far above rubies. Leora knew the value of freedom and paid the ultimate prices. She understood that the world can only survive if civilized people and nations hold the beats at bay.–LARRY LAWRENCE
South Bend Tribune March 2, 1980
Topol novel offers today's news packaged in tender, dangerous, violent, loving way
Woman of Valor
A NUMBER OF years ago, while travelling from Triese, Italy to Rome by train, I met a doctor from Israel. He told me that his daughter in Tel Aviv was accompanied by a guard with a machine gun when he walked to school. I remarked how much I admired his people and he said, "Why? We do what we have to do to survive." I'd not thought much about the statement until I began to read "A Woman of Valor." When I met Leora, the woman, I understood what my Tel Aviv friend meant. Leora is a happy Jewish girl living in Alexandria, Egypt, when we first meet her at the beginning of this outstanding novel. Somehow we never lose that 8-year old girl as Leora moves through the menacing growing up years. As a college student in London, Leora loses her innocence to Philip and her aloneness to acting. She dreams of being an actress, but the years pass and suddenly Leora is called home--not to the beloved Alexandria of her childhood, but to Israel where her family has been banished because of the growing tension between Egyptians Andrews. In Israel Leora joins the army and her life changes. The bitterness and hatred she begins to feel toward those who expelled her family from Egypt, finds a target, and a purpose when she joins Shai, the Israel intelligence agency, and is sent to Egypt to gather information. The bits and pieces she sends back become information to aid Israel in its struggle to survive. Then the boredom she feels from the inactivity becomes imprisonment when her mission is discovered and she is arrested and tortured in an Egyptian prison. In one sense, the book begins here. Leora meets Dan Yaacobi of Shi when he rescues her. The meeting is memorable and fateful. It wouldn't be fair to tell more of the story, but the action is fast, the plot and writing are excellent and it's exciting to discover the outcome for oneself. Few novels have kept me as involved as this tone. It's today's news packaged in a tender, dangerous, violent, loving manner that reinforces the talent displayed by Topol in "The Fourth of July War."--Mary Benninghoff
THE WASHINGTON STAR, Sunday, March 9, 1980
A Woman of Valor.
Leora Baruch is an Israeli intelligence agent in a special unit charged with eliminating terrorists. She is a crack operative, motivated by her hatred for the Arabs who dispossessed her Egyptian Jewish family during the 1956 war and who imprisoned her for several years as a spy, and by her love for the Israeli agent who rescued her form Egypt. Topol, a Washington author, writes a book that is more character study than thriller. Unfortunately Leora may be too one-dimensional for his purpose. On the other hand, there are some crackling good scenes, and the climax, though inevitable, is compelling.
Woman Tracks Terrorists In Ex-Pittsburgher's Book
A Woman of Valor, Allan Topol's "A Woman of Valor," like his first novel is grounded in current international events. That first novel "The Fourth of July War," took as its starting point the threat of an energy crunch in 1983 brought on by the extortionist demands of the Middle Eastern suppliers of oil. Written in 1978, it set forth with all too frightening accuracy a number of develop-ments which materialized in 1979 and which cast an ominous shadow over the '80s. THE NOVEL by Topol, a native of Pittsburgh who practices law in Washington, is centered around terrorist activities of the kind conspicuous in recent years. The characters are fictional, as is the plot, but both the characters and the events have prototypes in the world today. "A Woman of Valor," refers to Leora Baruch, who is caught up in Israeli-Arab tensions from 1948, when she is a child of 9, to the close of the novel, 30 years later. She is plunged , and more often plunges herself, into situations which justify the title taken from a passage in the Book of Proverbs. Wrongs done to her family interrupt the aspirations of Leora for a career on the stage and lead her to affiliation with Shai and in time with that branch of the intelligence organization known as M-18. THE MEMBERS of that group have as their special assignment the tracking and checkmating of terrorists operating not only in the Middle East but also in Europe and Washington. Topol does more than set up a conflict between the terrorist and their pursuers. He creates a personal vendetta between a ruthless leader known as Cherev ("The Dagger") and Leora, who is given constantly increasing motivation for tracking down her adversary. In many respects "A Woman of Valor" is little more than a novel of international intrigue. The canvas on which the events are depicted is a broad one. The cast of characters is an extensive one. Analysis of the characters, although present, is secondary to the actions in which they are involved. The assignment of Dan Yaacobi of M-18 to a duty in Washington gives Topol the opportunity to make liberal use of the author's close acquaintance with the nation's capital.
Natchez Mississippi Democrat March 12, 1980
A WOMAN OF VALOR
Leora Baruch was a beautiful, Jewish child, adoring her father, a prosperous merchant in Alexandria, Egypt when the 1956 Israeli-Arab conflict dove the family from Egypt. Her life, and father, ruined, after she had studied in London for a stage career, Leora turned from young woman with a future to a hired killer and spy for the Israelis, determined on revenge against eh Arab terrorist who dominated the world's front pages with their killings and kidnappings. She, and other agents of the Israeli agency, take revenge on many Arab terrorists but the "big one", the man known as "The Sword" escape them, time after time, increasing Leora's toughness and thirst for revenge. After her true love, another Israeli agent, is killed, she becomes and armed and dangerous automaton. Her search and destroy missions take her through jails, through various nations of the world until, finally, the last act of the drama is played out in Washington. There, she links with the State Department of Internal Security, after her lover and the director of, the agency both are murdered. Her single-minded pursuit of the killers, including the notorious and elusive Sword, is the major theme of this gripping story, another good one from the pen of Topol, whose "Fourth of July War" was one of the best novels of last year dealing with the international oil cartel satiation. This time Topol has taken his theme form the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations after the bitter days of war 20 years ago and woven it with a startling story of a woman who might have loved and mothered children but who, instead, becomes an avenging angel with little quality of mercy. Her story is worth the reading.--WARREN KOON
Fredericksburg, VA. The Free Lance-Star, February 9, 1980
Evenly paced thriller
A WOMAN OF VALOR by Allan Topol
Allan Topol, the Washington-based attorney, shows his versatility with the publication of his second novel, "A Woman of Valor."
Though his two books fall into the suspense thriller category, his first, "The Fourth of July War," centers around an American businessman's attempt to corner the flow of oil from the Middle East to the United States. "A Woman of Valor" deals with the career of one Leora Baruch, Egyptian Jew who becomes an agent for Israel's anti-terrorist group.
Topol has written an evenly paced story, introducing his characters slowly so that each has a chance to come alive before the plot takes off on a convoluting and deftly interwoven path leading to the climax.
Leora (we first see her as a happy nine-year-old) and her family are forced to flee Egypt and, as if that isn't enough to cause her to seek retribution, she falls in love with another Israel agent who is slain by an Arab terrorist known only as Cherev. The story bounces from Egypt to London, to Israel and Paris, Copenhagen and Geneva, Rome and, most importantly, Washington. It is in Washington, the author's home territory, that the story really comes alive, reaching into the seat of the United States government for the ultimate twist as Leora seeks out Cherev for vengeance.
"The Fourth of July War" was good and "A Woman of Valor," with a new turn on almost every page, is a fine read.