Ben-Gurion: A Political Life

Shimon Peres, Author, David Landau, Author
Shimon Peres with David Landau. Schocken, $25.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4282-9
Reviewed on: 08/08/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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Peres, president and former prime minister of Israel, provides an intriguing and intimate political biography of David Ben-Gurion (1886–1973), Israel’s first prime minister and his erstwhile mentor. Readers will enjoy Peres’s analysis of his relationship with Ben-Gurion and will find his humility appealing: “Why did Ben-Gurion take to me?” And his emotional admissions—that he had never “met a man with [as much] inner strength and determination” as Ben-Gurion and that like “Churchill, the other details of [Ben-Gurion’s] life shrink into insignificance alongside the decisions made at a crucial juncture in Israel’s history”—elevate this book above a standard biography. The author describes their long friendship with warmth, obvious affection, and respect, but readers might be surprised that the book’s brightest spots are when Peres discusses his own life, especially as reminiscences of Ben-Gurion frequently take the format of conversations between Peres and his co-writer, Landau, former editor-in-chief of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, which are embedded within the text and break up the flow of the narrative. (Oct.)
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