Five long, only fitfully fruitful conversations between Israel's former prime minister who was the long-time rival to, ultimate collaborator with, and successor to the slain Yitzhak Rabin, and a Paris-based former Newsweek correspondent and novelist. Peres reveals a number of fascinating facts of which all but a handful of readers will have been unaware. For example, during Israel's War of Independence, the Israeli forces executed one of its members allegedly spying for the British, only to learn later that he was innocent. Like Henry Kissinger, Peres has his share of bon mots, such as saying of Yasir Arafat that —when it comes to facts, he prefers to be a sort of Chagall—things can float around.— At times, Peres's reflections are highly insightful, even profound, such as this on the Jews: —We—re a dissatisfied people, a people that makes demands on itself, a people that the only electricity it knows is high-tension—there is no low tension in Jewish energy.— Unfortunately, he also is sometimes prone, as his critics claim, to viewing both the past and present through rose-colored lenses; for example, he makes the dubious assertion that —when we left power [May 1996], the trust [between Israel and its partners in the peace process] was full. I think even today we enjoy a great deal of trust among the Arabs. Among the Palestinians." His impressions of world political leaders he has met are both replete with colorful anecdotes and often superficial. Peres and Littell's book also could have used better organization—their conversations sometimes seem rambling, flitting from topic to topic. Peres, of course, is still too close to his own very eventful life to provide real autobiographical perspective with critical depth. This book, entertaining and occasionally instructive as it is, underscores the need for a good biography of one of Israel's most important leaders.
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