The Life and Times of Menachem Begin

Amos Perlmutter, Author Doubleday Books $21.95 (444p) ISBN 978-0-385-18926-2
Perlmutter (Israel: The Partitioned State, etc.) has written a tedious, repetitious, political biography of the controversial former Israeli prime minister. Despite a strong, self-admitted ideological bias against his subject, he takes a sympathetic approach to demythologize Begin: ""He over the years, has been labeled a Fascist, a threat to Israeli democracy and a militarist, but in fact he was a democrat, a liberal and a parliamentary politician . . . a man of high moral standards . . . committed to justice.'' Perlmutter also maintains that Begin was, repeatedly, a victim of passivity during crises, and that as a young man, he ``was a classic . . . party apparatchik . . . with few original ideas of his own.'' The author makes some sound points, but they are imbedded in a confusing history of political intrigue and often are accompanied by speculation (for example, on Begin's feelings toward his mentor Vladimir Jabotinsky and rival Ben-Gurion, he writes: ``Deep in his heart, Begin believed he never quite measured up to either man''). Photos not seen by PW. (May 15)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1987
Release date: 04/01/1987
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