The Imaginary Voyage: With Theodor Herzl in Israel

Shimon Peres, Author
Shimon Peres, Author Arcade Publishing $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-55970-468-7
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-1-58195-017-5
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Some of the same qualities for which he has been criticized throughout his long career as a statesman and politician make Peres an enjoyable writer: erudition (and a tendency to show it off), a taste for whimsy and a romantic streak. Peres, co-winner with Yitzak Rabin and Yasir Arafat of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, takes the reader on an imaginary journey around present-day Israel with Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the father of modern Zionism. The imaginary Herzl proves a good foil to whom Peres explains concisely how Israel has evolved in so many ways: from a desert to an agricultural miracle; from an agricultural economy to a high-tech one; from a nation remarkably unified in spirit to one rent by factional discord. As befits a man who was twice prime minister and many times a member of Israel's cabinet, Peres demonstrates pride in what Israel has created and satisfaction in his own rise from Russian immigrant in 1923 to one of the country's elder statesmen. To his credit, however, Peres doesn't rely on a ""what-miracles-has-the-state-produced"" approach. He expresses, for example, his dismay with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process since Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud block defeated Peres's Labor Party in 1996. Part history, part autobiography and part patriotic romance, Peres's idiosyncratic tour of Israel and its history is more loving than it is thorough. But his love is not directed at a Jewish utopia but rather at a real state with all its real-world imperfections and perils. (June)
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