CHAIM WEIZMANN by Jehuda Reinharz


The Making of a Statesman
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 Well-documented but slow-moving second volume in Reinharz's monumental three-volume biography of Israel's first president (Chaim Weizmann: The Making of a Zionist Leader, 1985). Here, Reinharz (Modern Jewish History/Brandeis Univ.) recounts the years and negotiations that led to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the 1922 ratification of the British Mandate for Palestine--initial steps in the creation of Israel. Reinharz covers Weizmann's career from the beginning of WW I- -when the Zionist, an ÇmigrÇ Russian Jew then residing in Great Britain, gained considerable political influence by using his scientific expertise to invent a cheap method of making acetone for explosives--through the victorious Balfour Declaration, difficult times in settling Palestine, and the ensuing British Mandate. The author seemingly has sought out every letter, diary entry, memorandum, newspaper clipping, and speech that Weizmann wrote, received, or was mentioned in--or that pertained to a Jewish homeland--during those years. Reinharz also has assembled a vivid and historical gallery comprised of the many figures of the Zionist movement, the British government, and others who dealt with Weizmann--including British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, French Baron James de Rothschild and his wife Dorothy, and American jurist Louis Brandeis. But in his earlier pages, the author sheds little light on Weizmann's personality, other than emphasizing his perseverance; it's only in later, livelier passages describing Weizmann's travels to Israel in 1918 that the statesman's leadership, energy, eloquence, diplomacy, and affection for his wife and children become apparent. Reinharz's writing again becomes pedestrian, though, when he retells the events leading up to Weizmann's triumph in the British Mandate. Not so much compelling as admirably--perhaps definitively- -detailed. (Photographs.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-19-507215-4
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992


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