An essential historical record of Israel's quintessential farmer-soldier-politician. Sharon's pro-nationalist autobiography is, of course, as politically expedient as Amos Permutter's The Life and Times of Menachem Begin (1987) was anti-nationalist. But unlike the books hailing the life and times of Ben Gurion, Dayan, Herzog, or Rabin, this one is about a key player in the future of this country with a leadership gap. Only ""Arik"" Sharon and Rabbi Meir Kahane gather young, enthusiastic crowds who shout ""King of Israel."" While a crown may not be in the offing, Sharon's undisguised ambition here sounds less obsessive and more altruistic when seen as an extension of his passion for farming, defending, and settling the land. Young Ariel emerges as a sincere but somewhat driven control freak who seems to have inherited his fierce independence from his courageous but antisocial parents. Typical of his Patton-tank persona, Sharon lets us see the concerned father but not the grieving husband when his first wife is killed in a car crash. The reader sees only the professional man whose passions move from plowshare to sword and from tank to bulldozer. To the book's credit, however, a fourth of the pages are devoted to the Lebanon War's thorns and far less to the roses of 1967 and 1973. If Bashir Gemayel were not assassinated, we are prepared to believe, Arik's defiant charisma might have turned a third disaster into triumph. Apologetic, defensive, and polemical? Sure, but it's an articulate and informative statement from a major contender.