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Sharon: The Life of a Leader Hardcover – October 25, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
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The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews


“A multifaceted picture of an Israeli patriot, military leader, and family man.” (Kirkus)

“Surprising reading. . . . The biography vividly delineates the qualities a leader needs to excel today.” (Publishers Weekly)

From the Back Cover

By the son and intimate confidant of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon comes an unparalleled look at the life and work of one of the world’s most powerful leaders. “A multifaceted picture of an Israeli patriot, military leader, and family man” (Kirkus Reviews).

From his youth as a soldier to his service in government, Ariel Sharon has personified Israel’s unyielding drive for security. He revolutionized the Israel Defense Forces and established the anti-terror commando Unit 101. His leadership during the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars made him a national hero and propelled him into the political arena. As terror grew throughout the Middle East at the end of the twentieth century, Sharon’s commitment to protect and bring peace to his people underscored his election to prime minister in 2001. But within months of taking office, the 9/11 attacks shook the Western world—thrusting the controversial statesman into the center of international affairs.

Sharon has walked a fine line between waging war on Israel’s enemies and accommodating demanding allies, a balancing act that is often subject to public misperception. As prime minister, he built a fence to separate Israel from the West Bank’s suicide bombers; he isolated Yasser Arafat in his Ramallah headquarters; and in a stunning and unprecedented move, he withdrew Israel’s settlements from Gaza. Throughout his life but especially as prime minister, Sharon kept a meticulous personal record of events and of the discussionshe had with world leaders, including George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah, Kofi Annan, Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac, Hosni Mubarak, Mahmoud Abbas, and others. But what the public knew of these interactions often differed dramatically from what went on in private.

Gilad Sharon, the prime minister’s youngest son and close confidant, has combed through his father’s vast archive—conversations, personal notes, diaries, daybooks, military directives, correspondence, and thousands of other documents—to offer a rare, intimate, and compelling look at one man’s evolution into one of the world’s most powerful and influential figures. Filled with news-making revelations, Sharon provides a rare view of global politics in action as well as a window onto the day-to-day life of a prime minister. A dazzling portrait of a legendary elder statesman and the nation he helped to build, here is a masterful biography and an illuminating analysis of modern Middle Eastern politics and the forces that have shaped this volatile region.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061721506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061721502
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,749,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. Ravitch on December 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Less a biography of a prominent and controversial Israeli leader than an attempt by a son to show his father in a favorable light, and even more a general defense of the Zionist state, this volume does succeed. General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon emerges as just the strong but compassionate leader Israel needed, needs, and unfortunately has lost for good. He now lies in a vegetative state. One wonders why he is not allowed to die in peace.

Sharon's son Gilad shows his father to be brave, resolute, and far-sighted in the face of Arab hostility and treachery and European disingenuousness about Zionism.

Arabs have every reason to oppose Zionism since they are prisoners of medieval religiosity and unfulfilled ethnic cravings. Europeans on the other hand, and some Americans, whether out of anti-semitism, guilt for sins of commission and omission towards the Jews, or naive leftist dislike of manly nationalism oppose and close their eyes to the deeds of bloodthirsty Arab terrorists.

This volume presents not only a positive picture of Ariel Sharon; it gives the case for Israeli national determinism to resist and to survive. In my view the position taken by Gilad Sharon is 99% right and justified. Not a great book and not one without repetitions to be avoided it nevertheless makes a splendid case for why and how Israelis may defend their human right to live, prosper, and survive. The civilized world deserves blame and censure that a case for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness HAS TO BE DEFENDED AT ALL BY THIS PEOPLE.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
[Ariel] "Sharon: The Life of a Leader" by his youngest son, Gilad Sharon, hardback & paperback, (Oct. 2011). My review is not meant to be a biography of the subject of this book: Ariel Sharon. Ariel was a `big man': physically, militarily & politically. For those who may be unfamiliar with Ariel, his life mirrored the military and political history of the state of Israel a decade even before its birth in 1948. Ariel served in the budding Israel Defense Force, led `retaliation' raids against Palestinian terrorists hiding in the Jordan-dominated West Bank, commanded various military units in all of its wars, and eventually becoming its Prime Minister. Again, a `Big Man'. [There are those Arabs who hate him for what he believed in, and, thereby, will rate BOTH my review and the book as a bad one-* or `no'. But, be fair, is my review really `bad' just because I review a book and report that the book is really worth reading to gain a better understanding of an Israeli leader?] But to the book itself, it is written by his youngest son, Gilad, who was about the age of 44 when he finished this book, so he didn't really `know' his father for almost half of Ariel's life - which brings us to how this book came about. The author, Gilad, noted that his father was, what we would call today, a `pack rat' in keeping the many letters, notebooks and documents that Ariel accumulated during his life (okay, to be charitable, an `archivist'). {Somewhere in Ariel's collection is a yellowing letter from myself requesting him to autograph several Israeli FDCs that I had mailed to him; after several months his secretary mailed the FDCs back to me - unsigned -- admittedly, to my disappointment.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Few countries are fortunate enough to have patriots who are sold out for the liberty and greatness of their nation. Israel is blessed to have had many, and none shine brighter than Ariel Sharon. This is a well written, easy to read account of the author's dad; The Life of A Leader rounds out what I knew, or thought I knew, about the famed General and Prime Minister. If Gilad's somewhat negative shadings of luminaries such as Moshe Dayan, Shimon Peres, and Golda Meir seem lopsided to some, remember this is written by a boy who heard many details and anecdotal episodes over many meals and long drives. I didn't expect it to be a glowing report of everyone involved, because people who serve together in difficult years can't be expected to see eye to eye on everything. It doesn't matter if Sharon, Dayan, Peres, and Golda had warts and wrinkles -- what they collectively accomplished is the story of the century -- no, two centuries. If people like Benjamin Netanyahu don't like what Gilad told us they can write their own books and tell us what a pain in the neck Ariel Sharon was, while he was giving his life day by day to make the country stronger. What stands above all of this, in actual history, and in this great book, are Sharon's enormous accomplishments, which undeniably are part of history. I like the way to book is laid out as well, with picture pages, yes, but also with pictures scattered throughout the text so that we're never far from a window to see back into the times the writer is telling us about. Great book, made all the more notable because of the author's intimate connection to his subject. May Israel be blessed with new legions of brave soldiers to carry on in the fashion of Ariel Sharon.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought it was an incredible book and would highly recommend it.

Ariel Sharon's life paralleled the entire span of modern Israeli history and from a young age he became a major figure. He had fought in, commanded in, saved from defeat, lead or ordered every war in Israeli history up until his stroke. He is the father of the settlements and of the pullout from Gaza. Probably the only two people to have put as big a stamp on Israeli history are David Ben Gurion and Shimon Peres--and a book about Sharon better captures the "story" of Israel because Ben Gurion died 40 years ago, and Peres never served in uniform.

His son Gilad, the author, had unparalleled access since he had all of his father's meticulous notes and records, was among his father's most trusted advisors and was actually in the room for a great deal of the stories he recounts.

It is an excellent book and due to the importance of Ariel Sharon to Israeli history and the closeness of the author to his subject, I would strongly recommend it, regardless of your level of knowledge about broader Israeli history.

Perhaps I should note though that I listened to it on Audible rather than reading it, but it was identical. Also, I think the so-so reviews are unfair to the book--they are either critical of the man, rather than the book about him, or they are critical of the lack of criticism from the author, his loving son. If you're looking for a negative portrayal, there have been some critical books written, but they are not as up to date, as well sourced and as detailed--that makes this book a special treasure. He mentions some mistakes and regrets but it's mostly a factual and intimate portrayal from Ariel Sharon's side. It's as good or better than any other option.
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