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Ben-Gurion: A Political Life (Jewish Encounters Series) Hardcover – October 25, 2011
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“In revisiting the career of his mentor, Shimon Peres presents a uniquely human portrait of David Ben-Gurion—a master strategist with a long view of history and an abiding vision for Israel’s future. Peres brings his nation’s founding father to life with the energy, candor, and wisdom he’s become known for in his six decades of public service.”
—William Jefferson Clinton
“Shimon Peres is a man of awesome accomplishment (a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, by the way), but his most important accomplishment is how he has come to personify the ethic that David Ben-Gurion represents. His book is well worth your time. It was mine.”
—Richard Cohen, The Washington Post
“An urbane account of Israel’s first and longest-serving prime minister by someone who, though nearly 40 years younger, worked closely with him for two decades. It is admiring of Ben-Gurion . . . but it never lapses into hero worship or loses its grip on the historical realities amid which its story is set. Peres’s personal reminiscences of Ben-Gurion and his entourage are delightful.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Invaluable . . . Even readers tired of ideological food fights about Israel—of liberals calling conservatives who defend the country fascists, and of conservatives calling liberals who criticize it anti-Semites—will find something to like in this unusual primer on the birth of a nation and its most important midwife.”
—Justin Moyer, The Washington Post
“Shimon Peres, the president (and former prime minister) of Israel, provides an intriguing and intimate political biography of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and Peres’s erstwhile mentor. Readers will enjoy Peres’s analysis of his relationship with Ben-Gurion and will find his humility appealing. And his emotional admissions elevate this book above a standard biography.”
About the Author
Shimon Peres was president of the State of Israel from 2007 to 2014. In 1947, at David Ben-Gurion’s request, he was recruited by the Haganah, and he was appointed head of naval services in 1948. Over a long and distinguished political career, he held numerous cabinet-level positions, including foreign minister and defense minister, and served two terms as prime minister. One of the architects of the Oslo Accords, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. Mr. Peres died in 2016.
David Landau was editor in chief of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz from 2004 to 2008. Before joining Haaretz in 1997, Landau was the diplomatic correspondent and managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. He is the author of Piety and Power: The World of Jewish Fundamentalism and worked with Shimon Peres on his memoir, Battling for Peace. Mr. Landau died in 2015.
Top Customer Reviews
Instead of getting deep into historical information and events, this book more or less touched on some history while spending more time debating on the effects of the events that actually happened. What we get is a dialogue with different opinions on the cause and effects of political events and decisions from Ben Gurion. I was actually hoping for more of a historical perspective similar to other books I have read.
In addition, the style of the writing seems to be very weak. It's written more as an essay or a long article than it is as a book. I found this style to be distracting and even boring.
If anyone is really interested in a solid and detailed historical narrative, I highly recommend reading The Prime Ministers by Yehudah Avner. That book is more than three times the size of this one but is about ten times better in the information it provides as well as the style in which it was written. It's actually an easier read.
However, I do recommend that people skim rough this book in a few hours as some of the info provided can be useful if you are a person that is interested in the History of Israel.
Peres regards Ben Gurion as the indispensable man in the struggle for Israel's independence. Without his leadership, his courage, his indomitable fighting spirit and his sound political judgment, the modern state simply would never have come into being.
Peres gives a terse account of Ben Gurion's early days as an youth in Poland and an immigrant to Palestine culled from other sources. He also provides a fairly tiresome account of the factional fighting in the Zionist movement in the 1930s and 1940s. The book achieves real drama and authenticity in its description of the 1948 war of independence and even more so in the 1956 Suez Campaign in which Peres himself was a key player.
Peres gives a balanced account of the 1948 war and the creation of the Palestinians refugee crisis. But his account of the Lavon affair which eventually ended Ben Gurion's career is murky and confusing.
Interspersed are dialogues on various controversial issues with co-author David Landau. These are interesting but you have to be very well acquainted with the history and the personalities to get anything out of them.
That's a general criticism of this book. It's not a real biography and it's not really a good book to start reading about the history of modern Israel. It's value lies in the fact that Peres knew his subject well and was at his side at key times.
The book was "written" orally. It rambles. It often strays into Peres' experiences and does not stay focused on Ben-Gurion's. What should be a great book does not hold up.
If Israeli history and politics interest you, read The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership. It is amazing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent, honest review of a great man's life. Peres presents both the strengths and weaknesses of Ben Gurion. Many good lessons to learn from Ben Gurion's life.Published 6 months ago by George A. Gunn
This is a wonderful biography of an outstanding leader. I bought this book in Israel 3 years ago and gave it to a friend that admires this great leader. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Mauricio
Amazingly instructive and honest account from a unique man who saw it all, did it all yet kept his candid and optimistic philosopPublished 21 months ago by Patrick Karuretwa
A wonderful book that should remind all Americans just how difficult was to bring Israel into it's own State. Much like how America became our own Nation from England. Read morePublished on October 13, 2014 by J. D. Mackin
A Great Lesson of history, a giant of The 20 century. God bless Israel and The jewish people.
Amem and shalom !
This book is extremely good to those people that are interested in Jewish history. It spells out amazing principles of a pioneer, a leader, a statesman and a visionary. Read morePublished on April 29, 2014 by Chemani
A very interesting book, with the description of an impressive life, marvellous and thrilling.
Wish there were more books on the subject of Israeli heroes.