PERSONAL WITNESS: Israel Through My Eyes by Abba Eban

PERSONAL WITNESS: Israel Through My Eyes

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Further adventures, memories, and opinions of Israel's long-flying, silver-tongued dove. After his Abba Eban: An Autobiography (1977) and five other works of historical interest, there are few revelations here by this world-class diplomat/statesman who has been on the sidelines for 15 years. Nonetheless, the Cambridge-educated Eban has lost tittle of the legendary eloquence that served his country in the UN and in the foreign ministry during Israel's formative decades. We review much of that dramatic history through the speeches that Eban either wrote (""the first war in history in which the victor sued for peace and the loser called for unconditional surrender"") or overheard (""the Arafat speech would have disgraced a patient in a psychiatric clinic""). Precious bits of dialogue with world leaders are shared as well: When Harry Truman receives Eban's credentials, the President tells him, ""Let's cut the crap and have a good talk."" There's also President Nixon breaking America's longstanding arms ban to Israel with the phrase, ""You'll get the stuff."" Lying in between Ebon gems such as ""Israel had committed the dark sin of survival"" are some strained phrases like ""my concern leapt up to an astronomical height,"" and these rare instances of overwriting are most pronounced when the author condemns the ""morally seditious"" attitude of Israelis who want to retain their present borders. The author also has some choice, unkind words for a host of world leaders and diplomats. At times self-congratulatory and opinionated, but Eban continues to be most readable.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1992
Page count: 672pp
Publisher: Putnam