CHAIM WEIZMANN: A Biography by Norman Rose


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A valuable, straightforward biography of Israel's first president, the best and most important of Zionist diplomats, and, according to Rose, the most forgotten. Weizmann, hardly neglected in his own time or by his own autobiography, has been the center of much attention recently. Just last year, for instance, Jehuda Reinharz published the first volume of two devoted to reclaiming Weizmann's place in history. Actually, Rose's book is a suitable companion for Reinharzs' more ambitious work. Constrained to a single volume, Rose rarely strays from the main story of Weizmann's complex, intriguing, fateful life. Background explanations are often brief, yet the pen portraits of such figures as Theodore Herzl, Ahad Ha'am, Louis Brandeis and others are insightful. Often the very brevity serves the author's purpose; the relatively few pages devoted to the Balfour Declaration are nonetheless an excellent overview. In fact, almost all discussions of internal Zionist struggles are admirably clear, with a strong flavor of the excitement and sense of history felt by the participants. The book essentially synthesizes other printed sources, including prudent selections from Weizmann's correspondence. Rose's interviews do not figure prominently. Thus no new information on Weizmann is presented. Rose also does not provide an interpretation of Weizmann's life; rather he seems to think that a simple presentation of the facts constitutes interpretation. A popular history, it belongs on the list of readings for those who want to be introduced to Weizmann and to the fascinating intricacies of Zionist history and political diplomacy.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Viking