A PROPHET FROM AMONGST YOU by Neil Asher Silberman


The Life of Yigael Yadin: Soldier, Scholar, and Mythmaker of Modern Israel
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 Thorough, fascinating life of Yigael Yadin (1917-84), the Israeli soldier-archaeologist who both made and remade history. Like Yadin, Silberman (Between Past and Present, 1989, etc.) is an expert in how modern states use archaeological data for nationalist ends. The author sees Yadin as a premier myth-maker who not only uncovered key sites and artifacts--such as letters from first-century rebel leader Bar-Kochba--but applied them to deepen a young nation's roots to its ancient homeland. Young Yadin is shown here soaking up a love for antiquities from his archaeologist father and developing a self-assured spirit from his schooling and household. Beginning with his responsibilities for the pre- statehood defense organization of the Haganah, Yadin's memory for detail and his ability to remain aloofly neutral helped propel him to become army chief of staff and confidant of David Ben-Gurion. Yadin's luck was remarkably good as well, and the author demonstrates how the archaeologist and his wife cultivated a mythic image at the expense of rivals. In war, Yadin gained fame by using ancient biblical roads to engineer key victories, while, in peacetime, he wanted to use his citizen-army to improve social conditions. Yadin's wife kept the soldier-scholar from the political battlefield, but after her death he headed the grass- roots Democratic Movement for Change party and ended up as a marginalized deputy PM in Begin's government. Silberman bemoans the fact that Israel's founding peacemaker was, at the end of his career, overshadowed by rivals like Moishe Dayan--but he realizes that, as a politician, Yadin's social flaws stood out. Silberman sees his subject as a charming speaker, as well as a brilliantly intuitive military planner and archaeologist--but also as an uncompromising loner: ``Yadin's true legacy was in the study of the past, not in the reform of the present.'' An eloquent, well-researched study of Israel's most eloquent researcher. (Photographs)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-201-57063-7
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1993


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