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Moshe Dayan: Israel's Controversial Hero (Jewish Lives) Hardcover – July 17, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This well-written and absorbing book offers an authoritative account of the life of Moshe Dayan and places him in the context of larger events. Doing justice to the complex and intriguing persona of Dayan, Bar-On writes for a wide audience, both general readers and students of Israel and the Middle East. I read it with great interest and profit."—Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to the United States and author of Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs, 1948–2003
(Itamar Rabinovich)

"[A] revealing and engrossing account of the life of an often admirable but frustratingly enigmatic man."—Jay Freeman, Booklist
(Jay Freeman Booklist)

"Mordechai Bar-On, Dayan’s bureau chief during the mid-1950s as the latter was Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, brings a welcome addition to the canon of Dayan, weaving first-person observations as he amends the historical record."—Neil Rubin, Baltimore Jewish Times
(Neil Rubin Baltimore Jewish Times)

"This brief, incisive, elegantly written book is full of up-close and personal glimpses of and insights into the many pivotal roles Dayan played in his nation’s military and political affairs."—Martin Rubin, Washington Times
(Washington Times)

"Refreshing. . . Bridging the gaps of a complex personality is the great achievement of this brief but highly thoughtful book."—Jason Warshof, Jerusalem Report
(Jerusalem Report)

"Briefly and elegantly conveys the life of a man who played an important role in Israeli history."—The Historian
(The Historian)

About the Author

Mordechai Bar-On is senior research fellow, Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem. He served in the Israel Defense Forces as General Moshe Dayan's bureau chief during the Sinai Campaign, and in 1984 was elected to the Knesset, Israel's parliament. He lives in Jerusalem.

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Product Details

  • Series: Jewish Lives
  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300149417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300149418
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #760,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. Terry Lindley on April 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Mordechai Bar-On’s biography of Moshe Dayan is a welcomed addition to the “Jewish Lives” series published by Yale University Press. The author utilizes archival material, Dayan’s writings, diaries and autobiographical works of important Israeli military and political officials, interviews, and secondary sources in Hebrew to produce the best biography of Dayan in English. This is a critical look at one of the most recognizable figures in Israel’s history that acknowledges his accomplishments, but does not overlook his failures. Since the author served as Dayan’s “bureau chief” in the mid-1950s, he adds some personal insights. This work also provides a good overview of the history of Israel from the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to Dayan’s death in 1981.
Dayan assumed hero status from his role as head of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) during the 1956 Sinai campaign and as Defense Minister during the Six Day War of June 1967. However, his public image of “defeatism” in the opening days of the Yom Kippur War in October 1973 led to public outcries for his dismissal as Defense Minister. He reclaimed some of his fame for his crucial role in the successful negotiations resulting in the Egyptian-Israeli Peace agreement in March 1978. It was Dayan who came up with the formula on the Palestinian issue in Gaza and the West Bank that satisfied both President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel. However, when Begin refused to follow through on this, Dayan resigned as Foreign Minister.
Dayan loved archaeology and used his position in the military and the government as well as legal ambiguities to accumulate a vast treasure of artifacts worth several millions of dollars.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
`Moshe Dayan' was written by Modechai Bar-On who for a few years had firsthand experience with Dayan. It begins with Dayan's birth and childhood, which is briefly covered. The main focus is on Dayan's military prowess and leadership from the Sinai campaign in 1956 to the Yom Kippur War in 1973. His victories and defeats are well covered.

What would have helped immensely in aiding a reader's understanding would have been the inclusion of at least one map with the place names, battles and resulting boundary lines labeled. This is a big omission in the finishing of this book. Pictures would have been an added bonus.

What is done well are the descriptions of Dayan as a person and a military leader, we read of his faults and foibles, how he at times goaded his opponents and of his sometimes extreme military measures. The disappointments of the Yom Kippur War are described as are the negotiations that brought about the Camp David Accords.
Dayan's person life is touched upon - his affairs and his 2 marriages and then his failing health.

This is a book, that for some who are not familiar with Israeli history, might clarify some of the facts and conflicts during the post WWII time period to the early 80's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Swordsman on March 14, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sixty years ago the author, a young officer, served as manager of Dayan's office. This enabled him to write several books about Israeli defense in the years 1950-56. Now he has turned to Dayan himself, producing a detailed and well-documented, but unexciting, biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By zen on October 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good basic overview of this very interesting man's life (a more controversial life than I was raised to believe). Its interesting that the author had worked with the man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By badbaruch on December 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got a much better understanding of Dayan the man and israel 1920 -1960.
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