Demystifying Dayan

Mordechai Bar-on bridges the gaps of a complex personality, while biographies of Ben-Gurion and Sharon fail to impress

March 6, 2013 12:56
Moshe Dayan 521

Moshe Dayan 521. (photo credit: YAAKOV/GPO)


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In the past year or so, three biographies on Israeli leaders have appeared that are distinguished by having biographers who were personally close to their subjects. Such books bring a kind of intimacy to the nation’s history, but the reader must be especially mindful of any interests their authors may have, as well as of the problems caused by the overly intrusive or detached biographer.

Leading off is Shimon Peres on David Ben-Gurion (“Ben-Gurion: A Political Life”) from Nextbook/Schocken’s altogether excellent Jewish Encounters series. While the book is valuable as a record of Ben- Gurion’s political journey, Peres defends Ben-Gurion so stalwartly on every last point that he misses the opportunity to present a nuanced portrait of a leader he knew up close.


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