The Life of Yitzhak Rabin 1922-1995
Email this review


A worthwhile review of the life of the late Israeli leader by an award-winning journalist, but it sheds little new light on one of the more intriguing personalities of the last 50 years. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister assassinated on Nov. 4, 1995, was almost the anti-politician. He was blunt, honest, and dour, didn—t tailor his remarks or his persona to his audience, and seemed always to be precisely as he presented himself. Thus, former Washington Post correspondent Kurzman (Blood and Water: Sabotaging Hitler’s Bomb, 1996, etc.) undertook a difficult task in attempting to explain what made Rabin tick, and he mostly disappoints in the effort. Kurzman’s central thesis is that it was Rabin’s anguish at sending so many soldiers to die as a general that led him to become a peacemaker in his two stints as prime minister, and that Rabin always had an eye to making peace possible even as, in a range of key roles, he was building Israel’s armed forces into a fearsome fighting machine. But Rabin presented this same thesis in his own memoirs, while illuminating as little as Kurzman the complexities of his character. Only in the last hundred pages, which draw on Kurzman’s access to many of the key players surrounding Rabin as he stunned Israel and the world by making peace with the Palestine Liberation Organization, does this biography finally come to multidimensional life. The chapter on the hours immediately preceding Rabin’s assassination is the best one here, and a frustrating sample of what the rest of the book might have been. We are left wanting to know more about Rabin and the pioneering, native-born Israelis with whom his life is so intimately intertwined (the publication date coincides with Israel’s 50th birthday). Rabin may have shown all his cards all the time, but one senses there are more complex explanations than those offered here for such a seemingly simple approach to life. (16 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-018684-4
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998


NonfictionA SPECIAL MISSION by Dan Kurzman
by Dan Kurzman
NonfictionNO GREATER GLORY by Dan Kurzman
by Dan Kurzman
NonfictionBLOOD AND WATER by Dan Kurzman
by Dan Kurzman