Making the Sand Bounce

The scene in the barren Egyptian desert resembled an elegant military safari from the country's British imperial days—until the explosions began. A mixed group of some 300 U.S. and Egyptian army officers and accompanying gold-braided foreign military attachés lounged under black and red cloth tents in the chilly winter air near Wâdi el Natrûn, an oasis about 78 miles northwest of Cairo. Turbaned waiters, wearing flowing, blue-gray robes, or gallabiyas, served coffee, tea and box lunches.

Then there was an ominous rumble in the east. Slowly, one after another, six B-52 bombers came thundering out of the bright sun, flying only 600...

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