BEN-GURION: A Biography by Michael Bar-Zohar
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BEN-GURION: A Biography

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this abridged form of his multi-volume Hebrew work, Bar-Zohar, David Ben-Gurion's authorized biographer, provides new insight into the personality of one of Israel's Founding Fathers (1886-1973) and the political career of the man who led Israel from 1948 to 1963 as premier and defense minister. After summarizing Ben-Gurion's middle-class childhood and Zionist background in Polish Russia, his kibbutz work in pre-WW I Palestine and legal studies in Turkey, Bar-Zohar concentrates on his hero's role in creating the Labor Party in Palestine, establishlng the State of Israel, and guiding the new state during its first decade. The ""Old Man's"" obstreperous character is revealed in his life-long political struggles first with Chaim Weizmann--from whom he wrested control of the Zionist movement in the 1930s to place it in the hands of Palestinian rather than Diaspora Jews--and then with Menachem Begin (head of the Irgun and later of the Herut party) whom he never trusted, considering his tactics ""fascistic."" With recently declassified state papers, access to Ben-Gurion's archives, and use of unpublished contemporaries' diaries, Bar-Zohar illuminates the English-French-Israeli plot to depose Nasser in 1956 via B.G.'s diary of the Sèvres Conference which planned the ill-starred Suez campaign; the ""periphery pact"" of the late 1950s between Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, and Israel; and the Lavon Affair, a coverup by Israeli officials of orders to Israeli agents to sabotage Western institutions in Egypt and place blame on the Moslem Brotherhood--the exposure of which became an idle fixe with Ben-Gurion and resulted in the end of his political career. These incidents plus the details of Ben-Gurion's private life which reveal a lonely man outliving his closest friends and receiving little emotional support from his (hitherto-ignored) family help to make this the most balanced and comprehensive portrait of the Israeli leader to appear in English.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1978
Publisher: Delacorte